Sep 152012
 

Ten years ago, in a late-night bar, I got into a heated argument with a Libyan Muslim — let’s call him Tariq — about Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses.

Did Rushdie deserve to be murdered for writing a novel? I asked.

Certainly, said Tariq, slamming his beer glass on the table.

What did he do to deserve this death sentence?

He disrespected the Prophet.

Really?  And did you read the book to decide for yourself if Rushdie genuinely disrespected the Prophet?

No.  But I read photocopies.

Photocopies of what — the whole book?

I see photocopies of pages and he disrespected the Prophet.

What pages?

Some pages.

Who selected those pages?

People.  Some people selected pages and photocopied them to distribute.

How many pages?

Two.  Three.  I don’t know.

Do you know that Rushdie makes no mention at all of the Prophet in that book?

Yes he does.

How do you know?

I am told so and I believe it.  He must die.

Because you’re a fervent Muslim.

Yes.

But you’ve had about eight pints of Heineken.  You’re drunk.

Now, I am in Ireland.  It is different.

And you have a girlfriend.

Yes.

Yes indeed.  Lovely girl.  And she’s not the only one.

Yes.  

You’re having sex with all these women.  

I am in Ireland now.  In Europe.  It is different.

Salman Rushdie wrote the Satanic Verses in Britain.  In Europe.  And he said nothing about Muhammad.  It’s a book about a guy who looks a lot like the prophet.  It’s the Life of Brian, Tariq, for fucksake!

Life of Brian mocks a Prophet too.  That director also deserves to be killed.

It was Monty Python.

I don’t know him, but he should die too.

Where are you going with this mindset?  We used to meet regularly for a pint, but after that I gave up on Tariq and his bizarre ability to believe two contradictory things at the same time.  Even though he said nothing about the Prophet, poor old Salman Rushdie spent years in hiding and to this day must watch out for a murderous attack, simply because he wrote a work of fiction.

Years later, when Jyllands Posten, the Danish newspaper, published caricatures of Muhammad, there was worldwide uproar among fundamentalist Muslims, although not immediately.  It took some time before those who wished to stir up outrage were able to spread the images to mountainous villages in Pakistan where, conveniently, there was a ready supply of effigies to burn.  That’s the great thing about remote mountainous Pakistani villages.  They always have plenty of flags and effigies just in case someone is unexpectedly overtaken with a severe case of religious outrage.

Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist, was the subject of a murder plot because he drew a sketch of the Prophet with the body of a dog.  An Islamic group offered a reward of €70,0000 for his murder, with a €35,000 bonus if his killers slaughtered him like a lamb, by cutting his throat.  I was a bit worried at the time, due to my Papahund series, but thankfully, nothing came of that.

 

Here we are in 2012, with yet another murderous rampage taking place because some Muslims choose to be offended by a depiction of the Prophet, this time in a ludicrous short film called Innocence of Muslims.  I’m careful to say some Muslims because the majority are embarrassed by the childish and juvenile reaction to this piece of rubbish.  I watched it earlier and it reminded me of a play  put on by a particularly talentless year of first-year engineering undergraduates.  Literal-minded, turgid, badly acted, badly produced and childish.

But of course, these are descriptions you might equally apply to the fools who have been storming embassies in protest at the little clip.  Literal-minded, turgid,  and childish, as for instance in this Australian protest.  It’s hard to escape the irony of a child calling for murder in a democracy where his parents’ beliefs are protected by law, and where they’re free to publish anything they wish, no matter how hateful.

The people demanding that Obama do something about the film appear to be missing a significant point.  Having thrown off tyrants and despots all across North Africa, they seem to be insisting that Obama behave in a tyrannical and despotic manner, which hints that perhaps they’re happy enough with oppression, as long as it comes in a flavour that suits them.

 

 

Not too long ago, an Irish justice minister introduced a provision under new legislation, dealing with the issue of Blasphemous libel.  This was rightly condemned as ludicrous, and nobody expects to see any prosecutions under such a law, but it still remains on our statute books until such time as space can be found to remove it permanently.

Offence is a very subjective matter.  What you consider perfectly acceptable is something I might find deeply offensive.  On the other hand, what I like might offend you to the core.  If I switch my sensitivity trigger to the Extreme setting, where almost everything offends me, does that earn me the automatic right to silence everything you say?  Should religious belief have a status superior to everything else, and if so, why?

Here are people, just like Christians, Jews and Scientologists, who believe in things that cannot be demonstrated.  Things for which they have no evidence at all.  Why would we accord them rights over and above people who believe other unproven things?  If I decided that everyone who criticised The Smiths should die, what would happen?  That’s right — you’d laugh at me, and quite properly so.

If scientists decided to murder everyone who questioned General Relativity, where would we be?  That’s right — we’d be back in the Dark Ages, which is precisely where this insane Muslim obsession with killing your enemies is leading us.  Or to be more precise, it’s where these mullahs are dragging us, since they’ve never left the Dark Ages.

Offence is never given.  We do what we do and we wait to see what people make of it.

Offence is taken.  Being offended is a deliberate, positive action, and the more willing you are to be offended, the more offence you’ll find in the world.

That’s why we can’t start to define things as being intrinsically offensive in and of themselves.  If we start doing that, we’ll hand a veto to every nut, crackpot and extremist on the planet who’s out there waiting to be offended.  We  can’t let the lunatics decide what’s acceptable, unless we all want to live in an asylum.  Unless we want all our standards to be decided by homicidal lunatics.

And anyway, so what if I disrespect your Prophet?  Would we tolerate Scientologists issuing threats against everyone who laughed at L Ron Hubbard?  Would we be happy if the Moonies murdered people who ridiculed the ludicrous Reverend Moon?

Why would people not ridicule a man who had sex with a nine-year-old and still claimed to be the moral leader of an entire movement?

Come on.  Let’s have some sanity here.

 

 

  25 Responses to “Innocence of Muslims – Why We Can’t Let Extremists Veto What We Say”

Comments (25)
  1.  

    In before someone else posts this obligatory Steve Hughes.

    ::

  2.  

    Yep. Pretty much what I said.

  3.  

    Quite right there Bocko old chum. Show me a man that doesn’t like The Smiths and I’ll show you my hairy arse.

  4.  

    Seriously disappointed with you on this one Bock. The movie you claim to comment doesn’t exist. You haven’t seen it so in that respect, you are like your imagined acquaintance “Tariq”.

    You may have watched a supposed excerpt from the non-existent movie on YouTube. I assume you have done some independent research before butting ham-fist to keyboard.

    What you are watching is a false flag operation and your comments mark you out as a flag-waver for your prejudice of choice.

    Show me the facts.

  5.  

    If there’s no movie, the actions of the extremists are even more ridiculous.

  6.  

    Leave your reason and your logic at the door–it doesn’t work on this level. I knew a man put to the sword–(literally) and displayed on the internet; yet another who never lived to see his unborn child; why?–because they were Unbelievers. You are correct that the majority are ashamed of the actions being perpetrated in their name–that is the majority of educated Muslims. However it would be naive to think that the majority of those living in the Middle East share the capacity for reasoned argument and freedom of expression. They do not, and it will take many generations before they do.
    There is a much deeper resentment in the Muslim World that will take longer to heal; an unmentionable truth that a once proud culture, which led humanity in the sciences and arts has essentially lain dormant for centuries; handicapped by the very dogma that they are sworn to foster and defend. This is their real demon.

  7.  

    Bock, I can bt agree with your sentiment and the video does exist on You Tube and is as you say badly acted and a bit ridiculous. If people take offense that is their choice and they can choose to ignore what is obviously an attempt to goad them. I understand that the Quran suggests tolerance for the unbeliever and they have the concept of ‘tawhid’ which is to do with having a unified community. Also ‘jihad’ is misunderstood and requires that no innocents are harmed (women and children).

    It is the fundamentalists and ‘make it up as you go along gang’ that we have to worry about whether they are the dyed in the wool christian republicans (George Bush and his ilk) or the ranting mullahs.

    Oh and I like the comment about the irony of the protestors having the free speech to call for the bheading etc. Seems to be lost on them ……….

    I’m probably dangerously intolerant of intolerance.

  8.  

    Very good article. The press inflame the situation now where there is a effigy there is a camera and it makes good images for a 24hr News Station trying to fill time!
    Sky News with Tariq Ramadan being called a ” Middle East Analyist” doesn’t help matters either!

  9.  

    Now that the media have shown the world how easy it is to whip up a storm amongst muslims, I bet there will be a lot more “short films” hitting the internet. God only knows whats on the way !!

  10.  

    It will be pretty spectacular and it will cost you €4 per litre.

  11.  

    Glad we’re all free to say what we want. Where does banning from posting on a blog – any blog – fit into this ?

  12.  

    Very simple. Nobody has the right to piss on your wall if you don’t want them to, but they have every right to piss on their own wall for all the world to see.

  13.  

    how does that apply to you appearing on my public google wall when i search limerick graffiti, street art, music news etc? also pissing on your own wall for everybody to see is an arrestable offence, it’s called public indecency.

  14.  

    is this the grafiti debate again,
    if so then Bock is right, grafiti is piss

  15.  

    are you able to read? or write? graffiti has two f’s as do i for you…

  16.  

    DoctorJ — How about treating other commenters with respect? Read the comments policy, and decide if you feel able to abide by it.

  17.  

    Very sorry i missed an f, just like i am very sorry that you missed a step in evolution

    May i also say that pointing out spelling mistakes never won an argument, unless two people are looking at a dictionary to find a correct spelling

    Graffiti is Piss

  18.  

    Doctor J has left the building with a flounce.

  19.  

    Good post. good point. Not a lot more to add really. Nice work Bock.

    One last thing though – it crossed my mind that there would be several military / industrial parties in the US / UK etc., who could stand to use some more violence in the world.

    Oh noes, the muzzies are at it again: here quick: BUY ALL THESE GUNS TO PROTECT OUR INTERESTS!

    Not saying that this is what happened; just that this turn of events dovetails nicely with the needs of several prominent powerful groups.

  20.  

    I think in this case the several powerful prominent groups might be on the side of the rioters. how difficult can it be to demonise the West in places like Kandahar, Libya, Iran and more. The movie ( if you want to call it that has been around for ages, if I understand correctly) is just an excuse.

  21.  

    @Rob – I’m talking about Raytheon / Halliburton / Blackwater etc.

    Not Hezbollah.

  22.  

    @ The Other Room, I don’t doubt that you have a point but the fervor that is being whipped up benefits radicals on both sides of the religious divide! The lunatic fringe on the Muslim side and the extreme right in the US. ( actually they are both extreme right).

  23.  

    “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise.” Voltaire.

  24.  

    Facebook is a wonderful thing Jethro

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