Thursday, February 02, 2006
Forget the Jyllens Posten cartoons. Here's an extremely offensive picture of the Prophet Mohammed. Blasphemous, yes? Surely this goes beyond any of the infamous Danish portrayals of Mohammed, portraying him as a pig, of all things!
But of course, there's nothing inherent in this the picture that makes it Mohammed, nor blasphemy. It isn't even a pig, but a "piece" of software, a computer graphic that we can interpret as a pig...or as Mohammed...or Jesus...or God...or anything else we choose. In the same way, the J.P. cartoons are not Mohammed, they are sketches that some of us attach meanings to, and it is the meanings we attach to them that offends, not the pictures. The real "offense" of the Jyllens Posten that is being protested in the Muslim world is not blasphemy, it is freedom of thought -- which means, freedom to reject the notion that Mohammed is a sacred figure. The notion is that some ideas aren't open to question, and that to question or challenge must be prohibited.
The Muslim world needs to grow up, and fast. All ideas are open to public question, to public scrutiny, and even to public mockery if the someone so chooses. The only proper tests of ideas are logic and empirical evidence, and in order to employ these tests, we need to be able to examine all ideas, without threat of attack by masked gunmen or rampaging mobs or kooks with dynamite strapped to their bellies. The only reason anyone should ever accept any idea -- whether it be Islam, Christianity, Atheism, or anything else -- is that they have been freely convinced, hopefully on the basis of reason and evidence.
It's time for Muslims to abandon the feudal era and join the 21st century.
For your viewing pleasure, I am also providing a picture of Mohammed's wife. Or maybe this is Eris, Goddess of Liberty. Maybe it's both!
They don't plan to, though. And they are born pissed off--or else they learn it from the Koran.
I do mean two somewhat different things here, though, which should be separated.
1. No one has the right to initiate violence against another, including for committing blasphemy. I insist that everyone, regardless of their religion, respect the individual rights of others. On that point, we are justified in using violence to make non-compliers comply..."dragging" them at gunpoint, if need be. "No, you may not bomb the cartoonists, no matter how offensive. Grow up."
2. The ideas of religious faiths are simply wrong. As a matter of public discourse and debate (not government policy) we should "drag" believers (through discussion and persuasion) to a better set of ideas. "Your religious ideas are self-contradictory and empirically falsified. Grow up." Of course, in this matter, believers have the full right to reply "No thanks, I prefer to maintain a worldview more appropriate to the feudal era, you wicked infidel. I hope you enjoy hell."