I was so offended by it that I never even saw it

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True to the law of nature that Orthodox Christian priests are always wrong about everything, I met up yesterday with an old friend who's an abune in the Orthodox Church, and he immediately asserted that the Jyllands-Posten cartoons contained such offensive material as an image of the Prophet Muhammad getting a full in-out lapdance from his nine-year-old wife Ayesha. This is from a guy whose parish is in San Francisco, who sponsors all sorts of interfaith dialogues, who has a T1 line in his office. As you can see from the full collection of the cartoons, there is no such image, even among the fake ones. But who am I to argue with Christ's representative on earth?

This brings up another unknowable unknown: How many of the millions of Muslims going ballistic these days have actually seen the cartoons, or at least heard them accurately described? There's no public furor like one about an imaginary offense. Protestors in 1988 claimed the unseen Last Temptation of Christ featured scenes of Jesus having wide-eyed gay sex with the apostles—a claim that was still circulating years after the movie had passed into the DVD twilight, and may have inspired Nick Gillespie's epiphany that the 12 apostles (a stylishly motley collection of carpenters, fishermen, tax collectors, et al) were the original Village People. Deadly riots may ensue when a mosque is demolished, but even deadlier ones result when people only imagine a mosque has been demolished. Moustapha Akkad's The Message landed in hot water because even though it never showed an actor playing the prophet, critics suspected it did. (Having caught a recent Eid-al-Fitr showing of The Message, I'm not sure even blasphemy could have made that movie watchable.) And let's not forget all the Jew-bashing we were promised in The Passion of the Christ, a film that ended up being about as anti-Semitic as Fiddler On the Roof. Hell, I'm still waiting for the Eyes Wide Shut mashup where Harvey Keitel really does blow a load on Nicole Kidman's hair.

All of which leads to one obvious conclusion: The people who are republishing the cartoons are not inflaming the controversy; they're calming it down. Our freedom-loving allies in Jordan should not just release imprisoned editor Jihad Momani; they should give him a medal.

NEXT: Cartoon Logic, or "All the other kids are doing it!"

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  1. Hey, at least our priests are less wrong than the Catholics’

  2. This goes on everywhere. Especially in political discussions here in the U.S. “I’m not going to even read that book because I know it’s a (bigoted/sexist/Republican/Democrat/homosexual/etc) diatribe. But I’m going to pontificate on it for the next two hours.”

    It probably has something to do with human nature..

  3. *cough* Piss Christ *cough*

  4. I think that people who cleave to an world model that claims to explain everything are unusually susceptible to paranoid thinking. Since the model claims to explain everything, every event must be cast into a role within the model. For most events, a sinister role is the easiest to cast.

    I first saw this behavior in the Christian fundamentalist I grew up with. If one accepted the axioms of their faith, every event in the world revealed the hand of either God or the Devil. Later, I would witness the same type thinking among the extreme Leftist when I went off to college. No social, political or economic event ever happened by chance. Such events were either the result of the intent of Leftist (god) or of capitalist (the devil).

    I think it is easy to convince people with such comprehensive models that some unknown is of sinister and exaggerated importance because they start with the assumption that it must be significant. From that point, it is easy for titillation to lead to exaggeration.

  5. What the hell is an abune?

  6. I refuse to read this thread, on account of all the religion-bashing I presume it will contain!

  7. Wikipedia’s article on this subject for those that are masochists:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyllands-Posten_Muhammad_cartoons_controversy

  8. True to the law of nature that Orthodox Christian priests are always wrong about everything…

    Care to explain the story about how you arrived at the formation of this law of nature? 🙂

  9. I remember from a sermon from my pastor when I was a kid- “you don’t have to splash in a mud puddle to know that you’ll get dirty.”

    Misinformation is one thing. Knowing that certain people don’t like certain genres is another. My parents’ not wanting to see Porky’s is no different than my not wanting to see “Wolf Creek” or “the Hostel,” which is no different than a priest not wanting to see Piss Christ- they’ve heard what it’s about, read the reviews, and they know they wouldn’t like it. If they relied on bad reviews that gave them bad info, that’s a problem but it’s no reason to slam the natural process of selecting what one likes to view for art/entertainment.

    Problem is, it’s so damn fun to splash in a mud puddle…

  10. dead elvis,

    I understand the sentiment, but it’s one thing to avoid things that you know are going to be upsetting and it’s a totally different thing to avoid something that you don’t like, but then right a review of it, make a speach about it, or burn down a building because of it.

    I’m just saying…

  11. Over the last couple of years or so, I’ve learned so much from so many people on this very site. From people’s posts and comments that I never would have read before…

    …before I started reading things written by people I just knew had sinister motives for disagreeing with the right.

    That first step’s a doozy!

  12. I would be rich if I had a nickle everytime someone said to me (in a voice that implied they were about to provide me with an epiphany) “have you seen Supersize Me?” or “have you read Fast Food Nation?!” No, I haven’t, and I don’t feel any particular need to, considering the volume of discussion I’ve read about them. I’ve heard the opinions of both sides and concluded that it would be a huge waste of my time and money to view/read those. [dramatic voice]Is that so wrong???[/dramatic voice]

  13. I have an urge to draw a parallel with the people who went postal because someone might have flushed a Koran down a toilet. Sorry, but if you burned down a building because of that, it *is* your fault, not the fault of the provocateur. I worry a little bit that Tim’s post misses the point- I wouldn’t want anyone let off the hook with a plea of ignorance. It really doesn’t matter whether one has seen the cartoons or not; violence is not an appropriate response to those offenses. Anymore than it would have been appropriate for my parents to burn down a theater showing Porky’s; whether they had seen it or not is totally irrelevant.

  14. dead elvis,

    I don’t think we are disagreeing about the point that it is just a *bit* (sarcasm intended) of an overreaction to burn down an embassy even though you haven’t seen the cartoon (or even if you have). This is obvious stuff that I would hope that people on this list would agree with.

    But I think the point of this post was that many of these rioters are at this point. And that too many people respond to things (violently or non-violently) without actually investigating what they are so upset about. If you don’t want to see a movie, read a book, or whatever, because you have heard things about it that you don’t agree with, fine. But don’t then go about pontificating about it because you don’t agree with it. In the U.S., this usually means a poorly researched review; in other parts of the world, this means burning down or blowing things up.

    For the sake of people that can’t read nuance, I’m not attributing violent actions with people that disagree with the “Piss Christ.” Nor am I attributing violent actions with the majority of people in the Middle East that heard about these cartoons.

  15. I have a cross in my bed room. My crazy brother gave it to me. He is not crazy becouse he belives christ is god…he is crazy becouse he is crazy. I don’t belive christ is god…but i keep it up becouse it scares people. I also have a picture frame with the picture of the girl that came with it in my bedroom. I have it up for the same reason.

    Secular people have their own superstitions…what if I went on a tyrate useing the “n” word. Or said that the halicaust was faked. I wonder if I would get death threats?

    Seahawks lost 🙁

  16. I think you all will find the following web site interesting.

    danishdelivery@blogspot.com

    Literally, as buildings are burning around the world, we can respond by sending a HUGE “thank you.”

    And please, tell everyone you know about it.
    I would love to see thousands of Danishes show up at embassies on valentines day.

    Check it out.

  17. joshua corning,

    Please spellheck before you hit post. I’m begging ya.

  18. spellcheck. Sheesh …

  19. Hey take pity on him. Besides the Seahawks, Seattle doesn’t have much to cheer for these days.

  20. Hello,
    boy, I love how this debate is going – free speech versus hateful Muslims. Just in time to kick off a bit of spring bombing, because ‘they’ deserve it for reacting so irrationally. (And anybody up on how Denmark has elected a fairly right wing government that is pleased at being able to find more excuses to kick ‘them’ all out?)

    As for a bit of context – with the vague exception of the Swiss – no one in Europe enjoys the free speech everyone here seems to be defending.

    As an example – pretend Die Welt pictured a rabbi with money in fists ruling the world – anyone have a problem with that, in a place where some people grew up with such imagery, and then participated in making sure that such people were simply taken care? Free expression versus genocide certainly puts me right on the side of free expression – principles are always more important than mounds of bodies, right?

    How many people would protest that it is censorship in Germany to be unable to print an anti-Jewish cartoon (not the Germans – after all, they know what they did, so it is not exactly an abstract debate about freedom of expression here)?

    Grow up, at least in one way – these cartoons are not part of a free speech debate, they are simply an elegant chess move on the Realpolitik board, with both sides happy for the chance to inflame their suporters before making the next move.

    Neither the quite right wing publishers and their political network nor the madcap mullahs care about anything much except money and power.

    But remember, in the land of freedom, don’t wear a T-shirt with words on it in the Capitol during the speech the president is mandated to give to the citizens. After all, it is only those barbaric Muslims which don’t tolerate violating sacred rules of correct public behavior.

  21. Joshua Corning,

    What scares me are your writing skills.

  22. Aha…. I seem to have tracked down the source of your abune friend’s urban legend. this archive of images of Mohammed features this proposed illustration from a book about the life of Mohammed. As you can see, it features Aisha as a child sitting on Mohammed’s lap.

  23. How many people would protest that it is censorship in Germany to be unable to print an anti-Jewish cartoon (not the Germans – after all, they know what they did, so it is not exactly an abstract debate about freedom of expression here)?

    Grow up, at least in one way – these cartoons are not part of a free speech debate, they are simply an elegant chess move on the Realpolitik board, with both sides happy for the chance to inflame their suporters before making the next move.

    Many people would protest the German censorship if that type of censorship was a matter of law in the U.S. … Remember the ACLU and the Nazi march in Skokie?

    However, lets not pretend that censorship of “hate speech” has anything to do with stopping hate. “Hate Speech” is presented as something that should be censored, because if you want the government to implement widespread censorship, you start with the worst examples of speech. Most people are deeply disturbed by “Hate Speech”, so it is an emotional easy sell. “YOU MUST BE SOME SORT OF NAZI IF YOU DON’T WANT THIS FILTH BANNED!!!”. It is like G. W. Bush saying that wire taps without warrents is only to be used against terrorists. If you don’t support it, you are supporting terrorism.

    Everyone who proposes limiting speech knows this. It is not about “Hate Speech”. “Hate Speech” is simply a rhetorical tool to justify political censorship. The people who want “Hate Speech” laws want all forms of speech censored and regulated. Especially because “Hate” is a completly subjective word, so nearly anything could be considered hate speech.

  24. “This is from a guy . . . who sponsors all sorts of interfaith dialogues . . .”

    There are plenty of Orthodox priests who *don’t* go in for that sort of interfaith stuff. It’s a mixed bag.

    The U. S. has lots of interfaith stuff, so it’s no surprise there’s Orthodox people doing it, too.

    Ecumenism isn’t always so innocuous. In the former Soviet bloc, Orthodox participation in ecumenical activities can be historically traced back to Communist times, when the Communists wanted to showcase their fake-ass “religious freedom” at the same time that they repressed the church (and threatened even more repression if they didn’t toe the line). Now that “ecumenical” bodies like the World Council of Churches are getting wackier, some Orthodox churches are withdrawing, while others remain in the fond hope that they can work from within.

  25. what if I … said that the halicaust was faked. I wonder if I would get death threats?

    Actually, you would probably get deth thredds.

    From persons unknone.

  26. I meant to add a smiley to that, but the server screwed me up.

    🙂

  27. Let freedom of Speech rain:

    All hail freedom of speech!

    There’s snow question in my mind, really.

  28. It’s amazing what a flurry of puns a little misspelling can precipitate.

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