Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Islam, blasphemy and Ezra Levant, OH MY!
Let's say I want to post the dozen "anti-Islam" cartoons that are causing such a commotion. (And, by the way, for those of you who haven't figured it out yet, there's a perfectly valid reason for making those images public: Because they're news, that's why. Please tell me you understand that simple fact. In any event, onward.)
So I post those cartoons on my blog's main page, at which point peace-loving Muslims who are demanding "respect" and "tolerance" threaten to execute me for blasphemy. So what do I do?
Well, let's say that, instead of posting those cartoons on my main page, I post them on a subpage, for which there is a link that reads: "This is a link to the cartoons. WARNING! If you follow this link, you will get to the cartoons! Don't click on this link unless you want to see the cartoons! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! CARTOONS AHEAD!!" Would that solve the problem?
Before we answer that, make sure you appreciate what I've done here. I've still made the cartoons available, but I've published painfully clear warnings to make sure that no one stumbles across them accidentally. In other words, if you're a Muslim, the only way you can be offended is if you deliberately and explicitly choose to ignore the warnings, at which point I have precious little sympathy for you. However, that's not really a total solution, is it?
Even if you're presented with an explicit warning on my site, that doesn't stop anyone else from linking directly to the cartoons page without giving a warning, whereupon Muslims can quite reasonably say that it's still too easy for, say, their children to accidentally stumble upon those pictures and be offended. What to do now?
If that's the case, I can fix that problem by adding a click-through disclaimer for that page so that anyone getting to that page from anywhere has to read and accept a disclaimer. You'd think this might solve the problem but those same Muslims might whine that it's still too easy to get to the images if all one has to do is "Accept" a clearly-worded warning with as much concern as one accepts, say, the dialog box that tells you you're about to install Windows XP.
As my last solution, I put those cartoons on a protected page, for which you need to pay $9.95 (Visa or MasterCard) to get access. There. Now are you happy? Have I put enough security in the way to make sure that no one is randomly going to stumble over those pictures, but so that people who are sufficiently interested can still get access to them? Would this make the Muslim community happy? And make sure you understand how important this question is.
I'm prepared to accept that images of the prophet are offensive to Muslims. Fine. For the sake of argument, let's consider that an axiom. But is it also blasphemous for non-Muslims to want to see those same images just so that we can discuss them intellectually?
I don't care one way or the other if Muslims don't want to look at those cartoons -- that's their choice. I do care, however, when they start dictating what I can look at and share with others.
Theoretically, in the context of my imaginary web page, I would be willing to accommodate Muslims by making those images as difficult to get to as possible, so there's no conceivable way for someone to be accidentally offended. But if even that isn't acceptable for them, well, there's really no other way to put this -- fuck 'em.
I could conceivably have some sympathy for Muslims if those images are being crammed into their faces -- that's one thing. But for the sake of informed discourse, there absolutely has to be a way for the rest of us to know what the commotion is about, and to be able to see those pictures for ourselves. And putting suitable warnings and roadblocks on those images seems to be a perfectly acceptable compromise. And what does this have to do with Ezra Levant, you ask? I'm glad you asked.
It should be obvious that this scenario applies directly to Ezra. Yes, he's going to publish those cartoons but, at this point, you'd have to be a total moron to not know that. Anyone with even minimal sentience knows what's going to be in the next issue of his rag, so no one can reasonably claim that they might get blindsided.
I suspect there will be a huge headline on the front advertising the cartoons and, if Ezra is smart, he'll even arrange to have those issues shrink-wrapped so no one can leaf through them standing in the aisle, but will have to plunk down cash first.
If all of this happens, it's going to be awfully hard to sympathize with anyone who whines, "It's terrible! Terrible, I tell you! Those blasphemous images can be seen by any unsuspecting innocent who goes to a restricted number of retail outlets, pays money, tears open the shrink-wrap and turns to page 37. Oh, Allah have mercy, how will I protect my children!?"
Sorry but, at that point, I think Ezra's given everyone fair warning. If you don't want to see the pics, don't look at the magazine. How hard can that be?
And, no, we're not done here.