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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Those cartoons and the ensuing riots

I'm all for an inclusive society, think that multiculturism has a lot to offer us and I am not a racist. Also, I do try my best to be aware of any prejudices I have (who doesn't have them) and to be objective when looking at issues. I personally think that people should use the right of free speech responsibly and not deliberately offend others beliefs, cultures etc and think that the cartoons in question are in extremely bad taste and offensive to say the least.

However I have watched what was a furore over an offensive cartoon develop into riots, buildings being torched and even people dying. I understand that Muslims, are deeply offended by the cartoons, as they not only depict the Prophet Muhammad in a deeply disrespectful way but also as the very act of depiction itself is viewed as blasphemous within Islam, however, what the violence that has gone on is out of all proportion; that people should die over a cartoon is beyond ludicrous.

Whilst I don't condone cartoons that are disrespectful, blasphemous or offensive to any religion; Islam, Christianity, Judaism etc......I do believe in free speech and the associated rights of living in a democracy. The whole furore is beginning to turn into an argument against Free Speech. Indeed what has been going on in the Irish media generally with regard to the issue is cause for concern. The fact that we, as grown adults, are not being given the opporunity to view the cartoons (other than if you have access to the net) is a farce. Whilst acknowledging the deep offense that it may cause to the Muslim community here in Ireland I do feel it is important that the right to free speech is upheld. None of the Irish media has done so, as yet as they have not shown the offending cartoons to the nation.

I am not sure whether the Irish media is being extremely politically correct or whether they are afraid of the consequences of causing offense as witnessed across Europe in response to the publication of the cartoons. The extent of over-kill on political correctness is another issue which I may address in a future post. Either way, the right to free speech has not been upheld, which I feel it should have particularly when there are those (a violent minority of the Islamic community worldwide) who use violence and threats to stop the press in various countries doing so. On a point of principle, I am with John Watters on this one, the cartoons should be published for the simple reason that the Irish press or indeed the press anywhere in the world should not be told what they can and cannot print, particularly by people who don't even live in Ireland.

Democracy and the right to free speech also ensures that Muslims who are offended are allowed to protest peacefully and also, as is already happening, answer back with equally offensive cartoons.

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doris said...

Mmm. Not sure. I am for free speech and also think it is absurd that death, terror and damage have occurred as protest against the publication of these cartoons. However, I wonder if there is a line to be drawn where free speech becomes insulting and for Muslims these depictions could be it. As non-Muslims I reckon we just don't get it because we can't understand how it is from their viewpoint.

I must find the time to chat to my Muslim neighbours and ask their viewpoint on this all. We got a note through our door, like everyone else in our locality, organising one of the London marches. The tone was quite worrying and scary and makes one want to outlaw all religions as creators of wars and argument.

I'm still not sure that continuing to publish these cartoons is in any way helpful.

Curly K said...

I know what you are saying Doris and my first belief is that people should respect others religions etc. That said, having watched whats going on I stand by my decision that Free Speech must come first. Firstly, there is a huge degree of bullying built into the riots etc. to frighten the Western press into publishing only what is acceptable to Islam. Secondly, I have watched programmes here in Ireland where people who believe in free speech are being labelled racist etc. Thirdly I always think its better to have opinions (good, bad and ugly) out in the open rather than festering underground as will happen if we begin to stifle our press.

I am not naive, this topic has opened a whole can of worms; where is line to be drawn between free speech and incitement to hate and who decides the difference.

However the fact that the cartoons were also shown in Eygpt (so its do as we say, not as we do) and also that there are equally as many vile cartoons generated within the Islamic world depicting Jews and Christians were deciding factors for me.

I am aware that puts me on the side of saying that Iran should be allowed to run the holocaust cartoons, not somewhere I want to be either. I don't stand behind offending Jews anymore than offending Muslims.

Its all a mess and in an ideal world all religions, races etc would have enough self respect not to contemplate producing anything as disrepectful in the first place.

Paige A Harrison said...

Nice post Curly K. Here's my tuppence worth.

All "rights" come with responsibiliies. The right to be able to express ones views has been hard fought in many societies and has come at the cost of many lives. We should cherish the right of free speech but equally respect the fact that this right comes with a responsibility not to offend or insult gratuitiously. I'd say that the Irish print media should take a blank paige (sorry for the pun!) and state. "We have the right to publish any cartoon that we wish. We choose not to publish them cos (a) they aren't particularly funny (b) they may offend and (c) they feed a stereotype that all muslims are terrorists.

It is noteworthy that most riots have taken place in countries that don't have freedom of speech, that they are well orchestrated and do not reflect most muslims.

This approach could work in so many situations. We assert our right to walk the Queen's highway, but refrain from marching our pipe bands playing Tim-hating songs for fear that it might offend our Catholic neighbours.

When a group feels under threat, they become defensive. That's human nature. So if we stopped threatening them, they might appear less aggressive.


Omaniblog said...

Well said you three! Debate, discussion, dialogue: these are the 3 Ds that we need in order to live alongside each other.
I note your respect for religious people, and also your respect for the views of religious people. I'd like to fly the flag of respect for people who have no religion. Respect for people who were brought up under the influence of religious people. Respect for people who have been scared by the views of religious people, and who have taken many years to recover a sense of wellbeing and comfort with their own identity. Respect for those whose children can hardly go to school without them having to worry about whether they'll be 'different' from those who are making their first holy communion. Respect for those who remember the iron rule of religious people. Respect for those who are suspicious of religious people and don't trust them because they suspect they might put their god before their neighbour.

I haven't had the courage to look at the cartoons in case I might be traced.

doris said...

Very interesting discussions!

BTW - the cartoons are easy to find online. Google for the main keywords and then just look at the cached copy if you are worried about being traced.

Curly K said...

Firstly folks gotta say this "whey, hey, interesting and intelligent people are reading my blog!!" Thank you.

Paige: Thanks, just trying to give my tuppence worth but still haven't got it as well articulated as I would like. I fully agree that rights come with responsiblities and know what you are saying about the press stating they have the right to publish but not actually publishing. However, I think they should publish them, in order that ordinary Irish people at least have the chance to see what all the furore has been about and make informed decisions. Put them in context with informative dialogue from Muslims as to why they are so offensive as well as, possibly, a selection of other offensive cartoons that are aimed at other groups. Something balanced, that would invite an informed discussion. I suppose what I'm trying to say is I'd like to see the Irish press use their voice to promote the 3 Ds that Paul is talking about by actually using Free Speech responsibly.

Paul, when I mentioned Religions, I meant all religions / beliefs / non-beliefs. I personally haven't attended mass in years - I do hatch, match and dispatch only. I did have a look at the cartoons, hadn't even thought about tracing - oops! If anyone does trace me and think I'm racist / disrepectful, they'd be 100% wrong but what can you do?

Doris: Discussions on men coming soon, I promise (only joking!)

Paige A Harrison said...

ck, your argument was well made. I just don't buy the need to publish something - just to prove someone was wrong to say they shouldn't be printed. I agree with John Waters on most of his argument. But the danger in taking this high moral ground is that it gives an opportunity to some of the less enlightened to believe Muslims = Terrorist.

Curly K said...

I hear you but I would advocate publishing them in such a way that you have no choice but to be enlightened unless they are pure ignorant or racist and lets face it there are people like that out there and no matter which way you go you'll never change their opinion. I think we're both saying basically the same thing with slightly different angles.

Rickard said...

Apart from the fact that I believe all religions are absurd, the main problem I have with the entire cartoon episode is that the standard Islamic response to everything seems to be "I'm gonna kill you!". You looked at my wife - I'm gonna kill you! You wrote a book about Islam - I'm gonna kill you! I don't like the look of you - I'm gonna kill you! Ok, when you have a lunatic like Bush in charge of the USA running around the World like a cowboy, I can understand some of their frustration but any culture, religion or society who's basic response to everything that upsets them is "I'm gonna kill you" really is in dire need of some serious therapy and needs a good kick up the arse in the small hope that they might cop themselves on. In fairness, while the Catholics (for example) might get upset about something now and again, they rarely (in modern times at least) threaten to kill the source of their upset. Sure, in the past they had their crusades and the Inquisition but they've at least had the sense to mature into something more tolerant, changes that were probably driven by changes to the societies in which they preach.

I have never read the Koran and probably never will but I suspect that Islam is yet another religion run by a bunch of conservative men who are so insecure that the mere thought of treating women as equals puts the fear of God into them. Of course, after saying that, they're probably gonna want to kill me. Sometimes I really wish that every religious zealot (including those bible bashing christians) out there would just fuck off and kick the leaving shit out of each other and leave the rest of us alone to get on with our lives.

Omaniblog said...

If there is a god out there, would you please start earning your keep. Save me from those folk who shout loud about "the Islams", those folk who are so blind towards themselves that they can't see themselves stereotyping like crazy.

God, you got to work harder. All those folk who shout about whole peoples as if they were homogenous lumps of clay, save me from them. If you come across a guy whose name rhymes with a French drink that happily mixes with water and turns a milky colour, spare him. He's a lost soul right now and his mouth is out of control. Do something for him before he fouls himself.
Spare us oh lord, from the mouths of those who blog before they think and whose words in consequence stink.

If you meet anyone playing the game "lets you and him fight" (see Eric Berne, Games People Play), gently remind them that there is another way to build a world fit for human beings.

Curly K said...

Rickard, I am completely adverse to all those who follow Islam being tarred with the same brush. For example, the vast majority of Muslims in Britain, have not attended the protests in London. Not because they have not been offended by the cartoons but because they do not hold with the radical fundementalists who are orchestrating a lot of the chaos that has ensued since the publication of the cartoons. Not all Muslims are so fundemental or radical. Every race, religion, culture has its share of radicals / idiots etc.

In general I see hard core fundementalism within all religions as a rising problem in todays society.

Omaniblog said...

Absolutely right! I think you've got it exactly right.