Friday, February 03, 2006

Cartoons now, women next

Tammy Bruce has a great article on why we have to be very careful about not appearing to give in to threats about what we allow in our press.

Let me be very clear here about my views before I go to Tammy's great point. I have what you might call a pretty broad sense of humor. Some of the funniest jokes to me are ones that poke fun at my religion, heritage, way of life, whatever. Let's face it, all societies and all religions have things in them which are fodder for good humor. Some of my favorite comics are known for self deprecating humor. I am pretty hard to offend, being a big believer in Occum's Razor. But there is a difference between a good "a pastor and a priest and a rabbi" joke and doing or saying things that are intentionally offensive.

There are, in my view, three points here. First, people who intentionally publish or say things that are patently offensive are cretins. This would apply in my view in this case as the point of putting the cartoons up was to show that there were people who would draw "illustrations" of Mohammad even though Muslims find that offensive. It would be a different matter if we were talking about a political cartoonist who happened to use a depiction of Mohammed in an otherwise non-offensive way. I don't find all depictions of Jesus or Moses or God offensive, only those whose central point is to offend. Most of even those don't offend me but I feel I have a right to be offended by it if I so choose. Most of them make me feel pity for the offender, but that is just my personality.

Second, it just doesn't matter how offensive something is in a newspaper. Civilized people simply do not run around killing people because they said or did something offensive. Sometimes I wish we could, but we can't. I am sure there were many vets who would take great pleasure in taking a piece out of Joel Stein for his stupid tripe last week. They won't. As a marine sergeant friend once told me "I have put my life on the line to protect the right of idiots like that to offend me and I would do it again in a second".

Some of these lunatics went even farther than threatening the offenders. They are ready to kill any European they can lay hands on because a few cretins in Holland did something offensive. That is just not acceptable and it could lead to acceptance, and I mean a genuine acceptance not just joking around, of the philosophy that the only solution to Middle East peace is to kill all the Arabs. That is a crazy idea but when you see some of the things we have seen over some cartoons in the last few days it makes me nervous about that crazy idea becoming acceptable to otherwise rational Americans.

Lastly, I understand that the Muslim faith has some facets of it that are VERY different from the Christian faith just like we have differences from the Jewish faith and others. In this case the central point is we don't consider it offensive to draw depictions of Jesus. We also have no problem with a ham sandwich or a cheeseburger. We are different and we have somewhat different cultural norms and we are offended by different things. While all of this is true, and I believe it is not only Christian but imperative to a civilized society that we don't run around intentionally offending innocent people all day, we have societal norms here. We have freedom of the press. We allow people to print things that are patently offensive. If you want to live here, prepare to be offended every once in a while. Anti-semites and racists and just utter fools like Joel Stein live here and their stupidity is protected. That may bother you, but you aren't special. You cannot move here and expect us to outlaw ham sandwiches or speech that you find offensive. We will not do it. We can not do it.

Now, back to Tammy.
today they demand world culture bend to their internal restrictions about Mohammad depictions. If these savage bullies prevail in damaging or destroying freedom of speech in non-Muslim Western countries, what do you think will be next? And there will be a next you know.

Think about it. What is the other everyday, most obvious Western sign of civilization and modern secular life that Muslims in Western countries have already complained about? How women dress, of course.

She has a great point here. And while I find a fair bit of current "fashion" amongst today's teenagers at least unsettling if not down right inappropriate we are not going to outlaw that either. More than that, if you lay hand on some inappropriately dressed teenage girl in many parts of this country you will find yourself confronted by adult men who are not impressed with your sense of offense or your sense of appropriate roles between men and women.

Feel free to move here and write articles about how offensive and inappropriate it is for 14 year old girls to be running around the mall half naked, tattooed and heavily pierced. I have. Stand in front of the mall holding a protest sign. We allow that. We also allow them to dress as they like within OUR societal norms and the rules of their parents, whether we like it or not.

If you are offended by women in bikinis (something I do not personally understand, but that is a different matter) do not go to a US beach. The Europeans consider us prudes on this front and some of them are offended that they cannot go topless on our beaches. We generally don't allow that either. They, fortunately or not, must live by our rules when they are here. Everybody does, no exceptions, no apologies.


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