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The International Writers Magazine
: Reality Check
True revolutionaries never bomb buildings. - Dan Bern

LOONY TOONS
James Campion

Another Sordid Tale of Religious Extremism vs. Free Speech
And kill them wherever you find and catch them. Drive them out from where they have turned you out; for Al-Fitnah (polytheism, disbelief, oppression) is worse than slaughter. - Quoran 2:191

Just when you think you've written about the dumbest, most illogically asinine subjects known to modern man, this happens: Months ago some Danish newspaper prints satirical cartoons depicting Muslims and their fancy prophet Mohammad in a "bad" light. Initially, no one gives a shit. Then riled up clerics take a fieldtrip around the Middle East with the things, along with additional non-published heretical material to raise the collective ire. Extremist Muslims, who need little motivation to do so, predictably freak out. Threaten violence. Wreak violence big time violence and destruction. And what are the predominant responses to this whole pile of steaming sociological horse hockey and babbling religious fanaticism? Defend the vicious protestors or bow to fear.

We truly are living in an age of enlightenment and intellect, I'll tell ya.

Let me begin by respectfully stating that what Islamic loons do on their own time with their own set of wacky dogma is their business. I have been pretty consistent on this issue with Christianity, Judaism, Scientology, Wicca, the Promise Keepers, the Branch Davidians, Jim Jones, those desert hippies who worship The Burning Man, whatever. Believe what you will. We're all proud of you. But what any of it has to do with a free press or freedom of expression in purported free societies is anyone's guess. Although who the hell knows what goes on in Europe these days, where Muslims carrying a grudge against the British government can be deported or some insanely illegal shit.

And as far as ultra-violent activity in the Middle East...well, who really needs a cartoon for this to go down anyway. A stiff breeze and a burp could buy you weeks of flag-burning, chant-addled frenzy in a dozen theocratic monarchies. Let's face it, after awhile its white noise and test patterns; the boy who cried riot.
Normally I wouldn't even get too crazy about this brand of raging stupidity until it reaches these shores. But now we hear American newspapers are backing down from printing the cartoon and network news organizations are blotting out the images in its reports, despite the clear fact that it is news big time news. And then there is the case of the United States government, which, by the way, is on a well-documented mission from God to spread freedom and enlightenment throughout the world, making mind-bendingly goofy statements.

To wit: Our State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper: "These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims. We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression, but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable." Bullshit.
How is it that Christian icons and Jewish Biblical Characters are fair game in print, film, music, art, comedy, and not Mohammad? Because we don't know shit about Islam and are infinitely afraid all Muslims are crazy or this confused white bread government of ours has depicted most of the Islamic world as radical hate-mongers of freedom, while also conveniently passing lip service to the "normal and peace loving members of Islam"?

Honestly, who cares if Muslims are offended? Boo hoo. Get a helmet. Have we gone complete off the rails with this religion crap now? We have to quake because Muslims are pissed at their icons being battered in art and/or satire? How about someone from the State Department getting upset that apoplectic religious freaks are running amok over a goddamn cartoon?
Of course this is another superlative example of why George W. Bush should be sent to prison for using the United States military to now force-feed the Middle East democratic ideals. We should have sent Snoopy in as an emissary.

Here's the argument from the other side: Muslims are prohibited from depicting or creating renderings of Allah or Mohammad in any way, good, bad, or otherwise. It is an anathema to their customs and beliefs. Well, once again, goodie for them. But what in the name of all that is holy and idiotic does this have to do with the Danish Press or the French Press or certainly the First Amendment laws of the United States of America?

Another salient question at this juncture might be: Were the people who wrote, drew and/or published these cartoons even Muslim? If not, what are we getting nuts about? What's next, everyone at the New York Times is now forbidden to eat meat on Friday or the entire editorial staff at the Washington Post has to be home by sundown later that afternoon? Maybe we should let Billy Graham run NBC news.

Hey, I'm well aware that people who make the most noise and break the most things get their way on this planet. This is business as usual, like religious violence. The Crusades and the Holocaust are fine examples of forcing religion on others and the persecution of religious cultures. But have we learned nothing from their fanatical crimes? This is 2006. Why are religious fundamentalists even allowed to debate this subject, much less burn and pillage unchecked and then defended in the press?

I'm offended. How about that? I worship at the altar of free speech and expression. And these lunatics are trampling all over it. But that's not new. That kind of God reasoning for wreaking havoc on everything is as old as it is crazy. But it doesn't make it right, and it is even less right to apologize or give into virulent oppression. Believe what you want. Fine by me. But keep it to yourself.

Of course I have my doubts 90% of these maniacs give half a fart about Mohammad anyway. How many of those conveniently enraged fuckers stealing televisions and ransacking grocery stores during the Rodney King riots had even heard of Rodney King?

© James Campion Feb 13th 2006
realitycheck@jamescampion.com 
www.jamescampion.com

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