Monday, April 26, 2010

Muslim Responses to Free Speech

Somehow, after the insensitive cartoon has been made, and justifiably, some feelings were hurt, still the stinging indignation is pointed at the free speech rather than at the death threats and in all too many cases actual murders perpetrated by those who call themselves Muslims. The choice is whether to side with the irrational murderous rage or with the freedom to speak.

The focus of indignation must surely be the untempered reaction of the radicals. The focus is the believer, already given to leaps beyond reason by believing in the first place, who is not able to limit his or her recourse to something fitting offended sensibilities but must make such an outcry as to place oneself above all others and invoke the right to take away human life as some kind of payment for hurt feelings. No laws, judgements, trials, sense, reason or self-control employed, just blind murderous rage. That is what is truly offensive. That is what should be the target of all our outrage. It is unacceptable to overlook the sanctity of human life before going right for the free speech as the target of anyone's indignation.

The trouble with belief is that the ability to make great leaps without evidence leaves the door open to accepting many more irrational ideas without question. The deep ignorance of statements by Pat Robertson about the Earthquake in Haiti being some kind of punishment for a pact with an invisible evil being is one example. Plate tectonics and physics explain that, there is no need to invoke the supernatural. Infact, it does more harm to stop and pretend it was done by magic, thereby contending that further study is either impossible or unneeded. How callous the statement is to those suffering the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

A Muslim Cleric in Iran tried to declare that female immodesty is causing Earthquakes via the mechanism of God's anger.

"Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes" Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi said.

This is absolute ignorance coupled with a brilliantly cynical use of social control mechanisms. That the people have already surrendered to belief without evidence makes it possible.

One can never be sure of what the next leap into irrationality will be, among any religious group.

Moderate Muslims need to turn their attention away from obscure cartoons, toward their more extreme co-religious elements and begin to criticize their behavior, if only because it is actually destructive to human life and risks defaming all those who share their faith, instead of just simply being "unkind" like a political cartoon.

Every other faith group seems to be above taking offense to their critics or perhaps they have found constructive ways to project their own positive messages. Institutions are in need of a little ribbing from time to time to point out their injustices and faults.

No person or group can be immune from criticism. The act of killing, making death threats or even making thinly veiled death threats is not an appropriate nor acceptable response.

No more unjustified murders can be allowed before civilized society must act to defend civil living. People frankly have the right to offend one another and to speak their minds without being targeted for death. If the terrorist had powerful weapons they would use them. Free countries already have powerful weapons and the depth of their restraint is shown when confronting fascist radicals such as those who murdered Theo Van Gogh for making a short video against wife-beating!

People must come to their senses and start criticizing the violent and murderous radical religious actors not the free speakers!


No comments: