OK, I'll admit right up front I don't know what to think of this total madness running rampant through the Muslim world at the moment because of some stupid cartoons.
First, let's dispense with this "Freedom of speech comes with a responsibility to use it wisely" nonsense. That's just rubbish. The people taking that position seem to think that freedom of speech or freedom of expression is just ducky, unless it happens to offend someone.
Excuse me? That's the whole point of freedom of speech -- the right to say things that may very well tick off someone else. If it weren't for that part of it, the whole concept would be useless, wouldn't it? You wouldn't need the concept of "freedom of speech" if you only ever said stuff that everyone agreed with, would you?
It's become really tiring to hear so many folks insist that they're staunch defenders of that freedom, unless of course it ruffles a few feathers. Then they're not such big fans. News flash -- freedom of speech is not something you can apply whenever it suits your purposes. You're either for it or against it. Choose. But there's something that bothers me a whole lot more.
Ever since 9/11, there's been a concerted effort to present Islam as a religion of peace, with the evildoers being part of a particularly unsavory offshoot everyone likes to call "radical" Islam or "fundamentalist" Islam or some such thing. "Don't tar us all with the same brush," the Muslims said. "Don't represent us all as having the same murderous beliefs," the Muslims said.
So we didn't. Many of us gave them the benefit of the doubt and defended the moderates against the radicals. And now, some of us are feeling just a wee bit betrayed, as massive throngs of Muslims go rampaging through world capitals, setting fire to embassies. And it doesn't help that we have to read crap like this:
According to Jordan's Petra News Agency, arrest warrants were issued Saturday for the editors-in-chief of the Jordanian newspapers.
Shihan's editor, Jihad Momeni, who is a former member of the Jordanian Senate, was fired after publishing the cartoons.
Petra reported that Jordan's leader, King Abdullah II, said the publication of such images is a "crime that that can not be justified under freedom of expression."
What the fuck? The king of Jordan is referring to the publication of the cartoons as an indefensible "crime?" That's when you know this has gone way too far -- when world leaders are stoking the fires.
At this point, it's suddenly become a lot harder for me to sympathize with the Muslim community. I've always been a regular defender of religious freedom and that sort of thing but this is just a bit much. At this point, when the arguments start about how Islam is inherently a religion of unthinking violence, it's not like I'm suddenly going to switch sides.
But when that debate starts, I think I'm just going to sit this one out.
AND HERE'S SOME IRONY FOR YOU: For the last few years, Muslims in general have been pleading with the rest of the world to not take out its anger on the entire Muslim community since, after all, it was only a small, extremist segment responsible for the terrorist attacks.
And yet, as a reaction to the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper, we have a growing Muslim boycott of all things Danish. In short, the Muslim community, having until now begged everyone else to be selective and targeted in their anger, appears to be taking out its displeasure on the entire country.
Now that's irony, no?