Wednesday, February 15, 2006

When Cartoons are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will be Cartoons

First off, I have to say that I wonder if I'm horrible for being amused by all the headlines that read things like "Four Hurt in Cartoon Riot"... Perhaps the funniest headline is here.

Secondly, what exactly is the reason that Christians don't riot over South Park, but Muslims riot over cartoons? Your particuarly mentally-deranged Christians will shoot an abortion provider on occasion, but most of them seem to have gotten all the running amok out of their system with the Crusades.

Of course, a part of this is the nationality in question. Muslim Americans aren't rioting, and perhaps, if they lived in a theocracy, Christians would be a lot more emboldened. Actually, early modern Europe was pretty damned theocratic and, again, we did have the Crusades and Inquisition.

Thank God for the Enlightenment.

And thank God for the Enlightenment values of rational inquiry, skepticism and a secular public sphere. How much better this world is for having made the journey from the Peace of Westphalia through Voltaire and Rousseau! Have you ever looked into how many changes the world went through in just the 1770s? It's really quite astounding.

So, of course, we need to preserve those values. Free speech is non-negotiable in a free society.

The Economist:
"Freedom of expression, including the freedom to poke fun at religion, is not just a hard-won human right but the defining freedom of liberal societies. When such a freedom comes under threat of violence, the job of governments should be to defend it without reservation."

Right. Which is why it's depressing to see our own government using this as an excuse to score some brownie points with the theocrats and flip the bird at Y'urp. Frankly, I'm not at all convinced though that people like Rove and Cheney see a free and open press as a good thing for a democratic society to have anyway. Maybe they want the religious fanatics to shut down that damned "MSM" once and for all.

Andrew Sullivan:
"The withholding of truth has, of course, been one of the recurring themes of this war. We were not allowed to see the video deaths of those who jumped out of the World Trade Center. We were not allowed to see the coffins of soldiers arriving back in the US. We are still not allowed to see the most revealing photographs of what really happened at Abu Ghraib (the legal case is still tied up in appeals). We were not allowed to see the beheading of Nick Berg. And now we are not allowed to see . . . cartoons. Cartoons! The very things newspapers are designed in part to publish."

It's hard to ask newspapers to risk their journalists lives, but wouldn't most journalists be willing to take some risk to defend a free press?

And, the left is depressing as well. Why aren't we leading the pro-cartoon marches? Jesus, it would be funny to see people in oversized Mickey Mouse costumes marching down the street! For the love of all that is decent, and indecent, it is the responsibility of the left to defend a free and secular public sphere. The theocrats hate us anyway because we're so big on gays. So, let's stand up for the things that we've always believed in, such as free speech, a secular public arena, and yes, the right of artists to be sacreligious! How can we defend Piss Christ (which honestly should have been called Shitty Art) and not march in the street for cartoonists? Let's party!

Lastly, the right wing bloganderthals are also just too precious for words. Please, please, please, defend to your dying breath our right to offend Muslims after crying for two months that the sixteen year old at Wal-Mart didn't say "Merry Christmas!" to you! Please begin to defend a free press right about now! That's darling!

Thank God I'm not a Democrat, Republican, journalist, Muslim, Christian or theist.

Thank God I'm not a believer.

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