I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the Koran-burning dumbass in Florida, the Ground Zero mosque, and several other incidents in the recent past. And while, at first, there seems to be a bit of hypocrisy involved, it turns out there is a consistency at work in how the incidents are portrayed. A troublesome one, but a consistency nonetheless.
1) The Koran-burning dumbass: it’s his Constitutional right, but it inflames hatred and bigotry and puts Americans at risk around the world.
2) The Ground Zero Mosque: it’s their Constitutional right to build their “Islamic Cultural Center” there, and anyone who opposes their doing so is acting against the Constitution.
3) “Piss Christ:” It’s an exercise in free speech, and to denounce it is tantamount to censorship.
4) Mohammed cartoons: It’s free speech and free press, but it’s tremendously insensitive and should be reconsidered carefully because Islam forbids depictions of their Prophet.
5) “The Last Temptation Of Christ:” Viewed by many Christians as blasphemous and an attack against their faith, but an artist’s creative vision and protected.
6) South Park’s plans to depict Mohammed in cartoon form: a gross insult to the world’s Muslims, and a tremendous display of insensitivity and bigotry.
At first glance, the inconsistency stands stark: in the odd-numbered cases, the rights of the offenders to exercise their rights trump the rights of the offended to not be offended. In the even-numbered cases, the rights of the offended trump the rights of the offenders.
But there is a consistency here. The rights of the Muslims, in each case, triumphs. They have the right to be offensive, and the right to not be offended.
But it can’t be that simple, can it? A simple case of religious supremacy, where one faith simply holds higher status in the eyes of the law and society than another? That’s utterly intolerable — the Constitution explicitly forbids such discrimination, and at no point will anyone arguing either side of the argument state it as such.
No, the real answer is a consistency at a more primal level. An allegiance to a principle that predates the Constitution, a principle that is probably as old as humanity itself.
“Don’t piss off the crazy dangerous people.”
That’s what it boils down to. Consciously or not, the mainstream narrative in the above six cases all comply with it to the letter.
In each case, all you have to do is weigh which side in the dispute is more likely to respond to the situation with violence. Which side is more prone to respond to provocation with force, to attack and kill to express its displeasure — even of innocents.
Weighed on that scale, it’s really easy to make a decision on each case.
Nutjob wants to burn Korans? That could get Muslims around the world to start killing. Stop him.
Muslims want to build their not-quite-a-mosque in a building damaged by the 9/11 attacks, named after a great Muslim conquest, with ground-breaking scheduled for 9/11/2011, and of seriously dubious financing? Go ahead, let them.
Christians are mad that an artist sticks a crucifix in a jar of urine? Screw ’em. What are they gonna do?
Draw cartoons of Mohammed? That could get people killed! Stay the hell away from that one.
A blasphemous movie about Jesus? Oh, just grow up and get over it, Christians.
Mohammed in a TV cartoon? Didn’t you idiots learn anything from the newspaper cartoons! That actually did get people killed! Don’t do it!
The non-Muslim defenders of Islam wrap themselves in principles and ideals and lofty language, talking about Constitutional rights and being against bigotry and hatred and all that, but they will never apply those same demands for “respect” and “tolerance” on behalf of other, less violence-prone groups.
And that exposes their agenda: at their core, they aren’t actually driven by principle. They’re driven by fear. Fear of what happens when you piss off crazy, violent people.
Which is, itself, a form of bigotry. “The soft bigotry of low expectations.” They just presume that if Muslims are insulted in some way, they will respond with violence.
Which is, it must be noted, is rather justified. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s certainly the way to bet.
But to simply presume that is to say that Muslims, generally, can’t rise above such primitive, savage urges and act like mature, civilized human beings. And, generally, that those who can and will can’t exert restraint on those who find it so challenging to do so.
Again, it’s a belief that’s based in reality.
But does it have to be? Can’t Muslims be called upon to grow up a bit, to recognize that their standing as members of civilized society require them to “suck it up” and recognize that they have no right to not be offended? That they have no right to demand that the entire world, even those non-Muslims living in non-Muslim lands, obey the laws and dictates of their faith?
I think they can be.
I think they must be.
And that is why I considered my own little act of blasphemy recently. Not as a gesture of hatred of Islam, but as a simple, personal Declaration Of Independence:
I am not a Muslim. I do not live in a Muslim land. I owe Islam no allegiance or obedience whatsoever. And I have every right to violate Muslim law with impunity.
Those who speak of their “respect” for our Constitution and freedom ought to stand behind my rights to do so. They can say they don’t agree with my actions, but they will defend my rights to do so.
But those governed by fear will urge me to desist. They will speak of showing “respect” and “tolerance” for Islam, and talk about how I should not commit this awful act of blasphemy.
But the real message is the one they will not dare to speak:
“Don’t piss off the crazy dangerous people.”
Fuck that. Sometimes, you need to piss off the crazy dangerous people. Sometimes, you need to remind them that their craziness and dangerousness does not trump law and principle and tradition.
Or you can just get used to letting the crazy dangerous people run things.
It’s not that bad, really. After all, they might not go after you any time soon.
It’s the textbook definition of “terrorism:” the fear of the use of violence and the threat of violence to bring about changes in behavior and policy.
I don’t feel like being terrorized.
OK, where the hell is a Koran? I got some bacon’s just dying to be used most inappropriately…