All this uproar about the cartoons of Mohammed brings up a lot of tough questions. One of the toughest is deciding if it’s OK to do something sacriligious towards a religion when you’re not of that religion.
Muslims have every right to be mad at the papers who published the cartoons. They can, and probably should, engage in a boycott of those papers. But, anything beyond that is where it starts getting questionable.
To start the thought process, here’s an article that brings up an interesting point, although I don’t agree with how far it goes: We are all Danes now.
The point I like is: “Hindus don’t protest against countries that eat beef.”
- Christians haven’t burned the Isreali embassy even though Jews claim Jesus was not a god.
- Buddhists don’t bat an eye when they see people living their lives off the eightfold path.
- None of the Abrahamic religions have put a call for the assassination of the creators of South Park even though they’ve shown some pretty nasty things about Jesus.
Perhaps the above examples aren’t considered as sacriligious as showing an image of Mohammed. An interesting case to think about: what if a movie came out depicting Jesus and Moses in a situation very similar to Brokeback Mountain? How would the western religions react? I guarentee a large number of Americans would be extremely mad. But, how far would it go if that movie was produced in Germany? I’m sure people would try to organize large-scale boycotts of that film production company. Would they try to organize a boycott of anything German? I doubt it (the all-French boycott example is different, but equally stupid – it was a government decision to not vote for the Iraq war.) I’m sure no one would burn down any German embassy.
In this situation, who’s wrong? Both. I don’t think the ideal of free speech should be curtailed. But, in societies that value free speech there has always been a line of acceptability. This crossed that line, but that still doesn’t make it “wrong.” Large-audience media always has to be respectful of the views of it’s readership or face the consequence of a smaller readership. The reason South Park gets away with it is because its relatively small audience wants exactly what it’s giving.
I’m sure the non-European Muslim population that’s protesting feels somewhat powerless here because I’m sure they weren’t buying those papers anyways. But why demonize the entire country? The citizens of those countries had nothing to do with those cartoons. Should the “west” demonize the entire Muslim culture just because a very small number choose to kidnap and murder journalists? Oh wait… that already happened…