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It Seems Today, That All You See, Is Images of Mohammed and Sex On TV...
April 12, 2006 2:26 AM   Subscribe

In 'Cartoon Wars', the latest (two part) episode of South Park, writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone parody the show that parodies everybody, Family Guy. The South Park episode features Cartman and Kyle at war over an imaginary episode of Family Guy that features a (censored) image of the Prophet Muhammed (QT preview here). But in writing their 'stinging satire' (some say of Family Guy itself, while others say it is a criticism of Islamofacism), have Trey and Matt ironically missed the fact that they themselves actually featured a non-censored image of the Prophet Muhammed in South Park almost five years ago?
posted by Effigy2000 (124 comments total)

 
Meanwhile, the writers of Family Guy respond (sort of) over at the official Family Guy blog.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:33 AM on April 12, 2006


I thought it was funny - but i also think Family guy is funny.

I don't see why it has to have relevant jokes - I kind of watch it like it's some kind of sketch show...

South Park is v. funny also - Team America less so...
posted by Meccabilly at 2:45 AM on April 12, 2006


The Super Best Friends



great episode.
posted by pruner at 2:54 AM on April 12, 2006


I've not seen the South Park episode yet, but reading this reminded me of the Family Guy reference in the Simpsons from a while back (Peter Griffin amongst all the clones of Homer in one of the Halloween episodes), which is one of my favourite things they've done in some time. So thanks!
posted by terpsichoria at 3:27 AM on April 12, 2006


have Trey and Matt ironically missed the fact that they themselves actually featured a non-censored image of the Prophet Muhammed in South Park almost five years ago.

They're aware, but probably don't care. (Feb 24 2006 FAQ)
posted by Jase_B at 3:52 AM on April 12, 2006


(favourite episode, David Blaine was perfect)
posted by NinjaTadpole at 4:19 AM on April 12, 2006


I love south park and family guy. But Part I of this two-part episode just wasn't that funny.
posted by about_time at 4:47 AM on April 12, 2006


I bet they show Mo w/ a bag over his head tonight.
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:40 AM on April 12, 2006


The whole show is filled head-to-toe with irony. How could they not know? Scandal!

I'm still trying to figure out what movie the Big Wheels sequence was referencing. If anybody knows, it would be a life-changing piece of information for me.
posted by fungible at 5:46 AM on April 12, 2006


So, does MF now do a play-by-play for every bloody episode of southpark? Seems that way. And get off my lawn while we're at it.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:52 AM on April 12, 2006


Okay, I just watched the first par tof that episode on youtube...they had a not so subtle jab at Issac Hayes int here that made me chuckle a bit...
posted by piratebowling at 5:54 AM on April 12, 2006


We know about the South Park treatment and we pretty much don't care. For a clue as to why, look at the intent behind this cartoon vs. the intent behind the Danish cartoons.

(Insert standard disclaimer condemning the violent reaction to the cartoons, support for free speech, etc. here)
posted by laz-e-boy at 6:12 AM on April 12, 2006


I think they knew about their own depiction of Muhammad and that they were, in part, making fun of themselves when they talked about, "What kind of cartoon would do that?" Still, even though they're flirting with the boundaries of proriety just by showing the prophet, their depiction of Muhammad is still a lot more respectful than the racist cartoons that were run in Denmark.

But I do think they kind of missed the point on this one, which, unfortunately, South Park seems to be doing a lot lately. Trying to make this an issue of free speech doesn't really make sense. No one was censored. The cartoons were printed, in spite of the fact that they probably shouldn't have been. So where's the violation of anyone's right to free speech?
posted by magodesky at 6:46 AM on April 12, 2006


What confuses me so much about the last few seasons' "message" episodes is that the producers constantly harp about how they hate all politicians and that both Republicans and Democrats are assholes, etc. And yet they seem to love doing episodes that fuel this cheesecloth-solid belief from right-wingers that South Park is a show that strengthens conservative values. They have an obsession with mocking Hollywood, despite having moved themselves all out to their studios in L.A., and making their most frequent targets in Hollywood people like George Clooney, who is largely responsible for South Park existing today.

I love the show and have no intention to stop watching because of any perceived "conservative" bias, but I just find it ironic that Matt & Trey love to constantly launch these assaults on left-wing straw men while the right wing is the side that actually harps on the weekly minutae of the show.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:46 AM on April 12, 2006


Why don't we all just compromise and simply allow satirical images of Muhammed Ali?
posted by spock at 7:50 AM on April 12, 2006


If Comedy Central doesn't puss out

Um, I think TV Squad missed the thing about Family Guy being on network television and Fox was "pussing out," not Comedy Central.

And yet they seem to love doing episodes that fuel this cheesecloth-solid belief from right-wingers that South Park is a show that strengthens conservative values.

Did you happen to see the "best friends forever" episode? You know, the one where Satan is embroiled in a battle against heaven and needs Kenny's physical body left on life support states, "I will do what we always do. Use the Republicans."
posted by Pollomacho at 8:00 AM on April 12, 2006


I don't think Trey and Matt need any more viral publicity. They conned us into thinking that Issac Hayes quit the show for reasons he didn't. Now this. Quit being their tool.
posted by crunchland at 8:28 AM on April 12, 2006


Just out of curiosity, am I the only one who let out an audible groan during this episode when they got to the line, "We'll bury our heads... in sand."
posted by magodesky at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2006


They conned us into thinking that Issac Hayes quit the show for reasons he didn't.

um... when did they do that?
posted by magodesky at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2006


Well, I guess you can question whose publicity engine is more credible, Hayes' or the South Park boys, but there's been a steady stream of viral non-news coming from Matt and Trey, and you must wonder how much buzz they're trying to generate.
posted by crunchland at 8:54 AM on April 12, 2006


are these episodes on youtube?
posted by kensanway at 9:00 AM on April 12, 2006


sorry--didn't see the qt link.
posted by kensanway at 9:02 AM on April 12, 2006


Youtube doesn't allow files over a certain size anymore. This is a recent change .. just in the last week or two ... in an effort to prevent people from posting tv shows, etc.
posted by crunchland at 9:03 AM on April 12, 2006


When the episode asked "What kind of cartoon would do that?" in reference to showing an image of the prophet Mohammed, Matt and Trey weren't making fun of themselves or any other cartoon for doing so. They were making fun of the idea that showing an image of Mohammed is somehow wrong.

Therefore, there's no conflict or irony involved with Matt and Trey having used Mohammed as a character themselves.

Not the best episode of South Park by a long shot, but I'm surprised that so many people seem to be missing its various points.
posted by chudmonkey at 9:45 AM on April 12, 2006


Interesting that they use Cartman as the 'voice of the show' when he said 'don't ever compare me to family guy'. I guess Cartman is their angry voice.

On a web board mostly made up of animators someone who worked on thw show labelled the people who criticized it as the "cartoon taliban", which didn't really make any sense.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:59 AM on April 12, 2006


(the previous line is in reference to Family Guy)
posted by Space Coyote at 10:00 AM on April 12, 2006


Hype.
/the subject itself not the post.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:47 AM on April 12, 2006


Well, I guess you can question whose publicity engine is more credible, Hayes' or the South Park boys, but there's been a steady stream of viral non-news coming from Matt and Trey, and you must wonder how much buzz they're trying to generate.

Wasn't that story about Hayes not really quitting South Park proven to be a hoax? I thought it was, but I can't remember where I read about it.

When the episode asked "What kind of cartoon would do that?" in reference to showing an image of the prophet Mohammed, Matt and Trey weren't making fun of themselves or any other cartoon for doing so. They were making fun of the idea that showing an image of Mohammed is somehow wrong.

They were doing that too. There's nothing saying you can't make fun of two different things with one joke. Actually, the whole episode was about that--mocking extremist Muslims, television executives, and Family Guy all at the same time.

With that particular line, they were making fun of people who think Muhammad's face shouldn't be shown. But there was also a bit of self-referential humor since they themselves had shown Muhammad in a cartoon. Kind of like when Cartman said, "How would you feel if there was a show that ripped on Jews all the time?" Doesn't mean they're apologizing for it. They're just humorously highlighting their own show.

Although, I have to say that there does seem to be a lot of insensitivity among westerners to blasphemy when it's directed as somebody else's religion. Showing Muhammad I think is, at the very least, flirting with the boundaries of good taste.
posted by magodesky at 10:51 AM on April 12, 2006


Funny, I thought the point of this episode was to give Comedy Central and Tom Cruise grief for the censoring of the Scientology episode. In this case, Family Guy is a metaphor for South Park and the muslim faith is a metaphor for Scientology.
posted by plinth at 10:58 AM on April 12, 2006


In this case, Family Guy is a metaphor for South Park and the muslim faith is a metaphor for Scientology.

Wow, if that's actually true, South Park is now officially smarter than I am (I suspected this was true for some time, but this confirms it). I'll now be removing it from my Tivo subscriptions. I'm also starting to wonder if I understood the metaphorical underpinnings of the fetus munching Chrisopher Reeve featured a couple of seasons ago.
posted by psmealey at 12:54 PM on April 12, 2006


I've started a commune based on the Allegory of the Cripple Fight episode.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:09 PM on April 12, 2006


Cartman: Suck my balls ChasFile, suck my balls.
posted by bardic at 1:27 PM on April 12, 2006


It's not to my taste anymore, as being sledgehammered with scatalogical humor isn't really my thing but South Park did just win a Peabody award....
posted by Lynsey at 2:38 PM on April 12, 2006


I go back and forth on SP. I guess that makes sense, given it's inherent unevenness. I did like the most recent episode.
posted by bardic at 2:57 PM on April 12, 2006


i thought it was connected to the Scientology thing too, and that the Hot Wheels chase scene was from a Tom Cruise movie. The first part really wasn't good, so they better have some big finish. This whole new season has sucked so far.

Simpsons has been poking at Family Guy for a while now--the Sideshow Bob in Italy episode, and many others...South Park has poked the Simpsons far more than Family Guy tho. Had Family Guy recently stolen a South Park story, like they have done with Simpsons?
posted by amberglow at 4:11 PM on April 12, 2006


Although, I have to say that there does seem to be a lot of insensitivity among westerners to blasphemy when it's directed as somebody else's religion. Showing Mohammed I think is, at the very least, flirting with the boundaries of good taste.

I think that's somewhat short sighted. South Park pokes fun at Christians and Jews almost each and every show, and has so far dedicated shows to two quintessentially Western religions: Mormonism and Scientology. Personally, I'm all for more caustic satire dealing with all the world's religions, atheism, agnosticism, aptheism - whatever you've got that's sacred, I want it taken down a peg, if it's done correctly.

I respect everyone's right to believe in whatever the hell they want to believe in, but it doesn't mean I have to adhere to their beliefs. Just because Muslims consider it blasphemous to depict an image of Mohammed, that doesn't mean everyone else has to believe that, or yield to it...
posted by SweetJesus at 5:08 PM on April 12, 2006


I think that's somewhat short sighted. South Park pokes fun at Christians and Jews almost each and every show, and has so far dedicated shows to two quintessentially Western religions: Mormonism and Scientology. Personally, I'm all for more caustic satire dealing with all the world's religions, atheism, agnosticism, aptheism - whatever you've got that's sacred, I want it taken down a peg, if it's done correctly.

Well, I should add that the aforementioned boundary is one that South Park flirts with a lot. But most of the time, it's all in good fun. Which is why I didn't have a problem with the "Super Best Friends" episode. That contrasts quite a bit with the Danish cartoons, which were really just racist propaganda.

But I do think the attitude exhibited by many people in the wake of the Danish cartoon controversy that freedom of speech somehow makes it appropriate for us to depict their holiest symbols in whatever way we want is misguided. It's not about being able to show Muhammad's face. It's about showing a certain amount of respect for other people's culture.

If I wanted to, I could draw a picture of Jesus being fucked up the ass by Buddha. But it would probably piss a lot of people off. And they would be right to be pissed off because that would be completely inappropriate. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.
posted by magodesky at 5:48 PM on April 12, 2006


the Hot Wheels chase scene was from a Tom Cruise movie

I don't know which one you're referring to, but man I hope this is true. It means that in the course of making a show that metaphorically ridicules Scientology and Comedy Central, they worked in a parody of Cruise - again! That is fucking genius!
posted by fungible at 7:17 PM on April 12, 2006


If I wanted to, I could draw a picture of Jesus being fucked up the ass by Buddha.

That's a false dichotomy. A picture of Mohammed and a picture of Jesus being fucked up the ass by Buddha are not equal, in so far as the neither the tone nor intent match. The second is obviously designed to overtly offend, while the first isn't. Some may equate the two, but we in the reality-based community can discern the difference.

That contrasts quite a bit with the Danish cartoons, which were really just racist propaganda.

Well, in America we have the right to publish racist cartoons, and while this may upset some, I prefer it to some sort of state-run censorship board that decides what is or is not decent for publications.

It's not about being able to show Mohammed's face. It's about showing a certain amount of respect for other people's culture.

Yes, and in secular western culture we attempt to place higher values on freedom of speech and expression for all, rather than kowtowing to the demands of a vocal minority's insistence for symbolic censorship. Secular western culture also tends not to call for the deaths of those who offend it, I might add.
posted by SweetJesus at 7:28 PM on April 12, 2006


ok, that was not great--if they're going to use this season to avenge their personal slights and insults and stuff, the show's dead. This is now the 4th episode that does that, even if bigger issues are involved. (i'm purposely not spoiling it, hopefully)
posted by amberglow at 7:35 PM on April 12, 2006



I respect everyone's right to believe in whatever the hell they want to believe in, but it doesn't mean I have to adhere to their beliefs. Just because Muslims consider it blasphemous to depict an image of Mohammed, that doesn't mean everyone else has to believe that, or yield to it...


The problem comes when those same people who do something they know will offend one religion's member are being dishonest--most would never ever treat their own religious deities the same way (see Chef, for example). The Danish rightwingers who did the original cartoons don't ever depict Christianity and Jesus the way they did Mohammed and Islam. That why South Park is defended so--they mock all, including their own, not just the ones they don't like.

People certainly are allowed to do what they want, depictionwise, but they certainly are not exempt themselves, nor should they be turned into some kind of First Amendment hero, when they're actually anti-Muslim bigots and assholes. Let them do to Jesus what they did to Mohammed--i bet the thought wouldn't even occur to them, even tho all religions have extremists and have committed horrendous atrocities.
posted by amberglow at 7:41 PM on April 12, 2006


Secular western culture also tends not to call for the deaths of those who offend it, I might add.

That's utterly false, if Ann Coulter and rightwingers all over the airwaves are any part of secular western culture--and they are. There have been countless calls for the death of Muslims, of illegal immigrants, of us gays and lesbians, of Supreme Court justices, of employees at the NYTimes, etc...
posted by amberglow at 7:45 PM on April 12, 2006


FG tries to be a humourous homage to the corny, formulaic sitcoms of decades past, and Matt and Trey went for exactly the same formula with "That's My Bush", so I don't think they truly hate FG as much as that. Unless they're self-centered hypocrites, of course, which is entirely possible.

God damn I wish That's My Bush had lasted. Honestly that was my biggest gripe about 9/11.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:54 PM on April 12, 2006


It wasn't funny at all, Space--and it wasn't at all harsh enough--it disappointed many who expected something with an edge, like South Park.
posted by amberglow at 8:05 PM on April 12, 2006


That's utterly false, if Ann Coulter and rightwingers all over the airwaves are any part of secular western culture--and they are. There have been countless calls for the death of Muslims, of illegal immigrants, of us gays and lesbians, of Supreme Court justices, of employees at the NYTimes, etc...

It's not false at all. Ann Coulter is a media demagog who says outrageous things to sell books, and appear on TV. It goes without saying that Ann Coulter is not any sort of religious leader or cultural prophet - she's merely the latest in a long line of cynical race baiters. That being said, I don't think she should be censored or killed no matter what up-chucks it's way out of her innards.

You can attempt to rationalize the protests in whatever way you chose, but that doesn't mask the obvious fact that there were protests world-wide calling for the deaths of those who disrespect Mohammed. I may not have been watching enough CNN lately, but I can't remember seeing a similar analogue in America...

The Danish rightwingers who did the original cartoons don't ever depict Christianity and Jesus the way they did Mohammed and Islam. That why South Park is defended so--they mock all, including their own, not just the ones they don't like.

I'm not talking about Danish cartoons; they're immaterial. I'm talking about the idea that someone's sacred cow is off limits for slaughter just because they say so. Stop bringing up the right wing, because this isn't a left-right issue, it's an issue of modernity verses faith. As I'm sure you're tired of Christians attempting to shove ID down our collective throats, you should be just as tired of Muslims attempting to enforce what can and cannot be drawn on this planet. The fact that you don't shows to me that you're loyal to a party, and not to a principal.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:09 PM on April 12, 2006


if they're going to use this season to avenge their personal slights and insults and stuff, the show's dead.

Funny, because they guy dropping off Kyle at Fox Headquarters said almost the same thing. Consider yourself mocked!
posted by fungible at 8:12 PM on April 12, 2006


Amberglow, I enjoyed it. And it wasn't overtly harsh all the time but it did have very poignant undercurrents, like how he got so excited about executing someone.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:32 PM on April 12, 2006


That's a false dichotomy. A picture of Mohammed and a picture of Jesus being fucked up the ass by Buddha are not equal, in so far as the neither the tone nor intent match. The second is obviously designed to overtly offend, while the first isn't. Some may equate the two, but we in the reality-based community can discern the difference.

Obviously, I used an extreme example. I did that to illustrate a point. That point being that there are certain ways of depicting religious figures and icons that are just inappropriate. Not showing Muhammad's face is simply a sign of respect. It's as simple as that.

And please tell me how drawing a picture of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban is not "obviously designed to overtly offend."

Well, in America we have the right to publish racist cartoons, and while this may upset some, I prefer it to some sort of state-run censorship board that decides what is or is not decent for publications.

You're completely missing the point. And this is exactly the problem with what South Park did. You're setting up a straw man and attacking that rather than dealing with the actual issues. There is no "state-run censorship board" in play here. The cartoons weren't censored. They were published in a newspaper. This despite the fact that they were bad cartoons. No one's right to free speech was violated.

You can't say the news networks were censoring the cartoons for not running them either because the networks are privately owned. It's not their responsibility to give every artist a soap box, although I'm sure that's something that artists like Matt and Trey wouldn't mind. In fact, I think they made the right call by not reproducing that trash.

Again, it's not about free speech. It's about responsibility. Just because you can say something doesn't mean you should. Show me how anyone's freedom of speech is being violated here, and I'll give in. But frankly, I just don't see it.

Secular western culture also tends not to call for the deaths of those who offend it, I might add.

Like hell. Do you know how many death threats authors get for writing things about Jesus that aren't completely in keeping with evangelical teachings? Just because they don't make such a public show of their death threats doesn't mean they aren't there.

Regardless of who is more violent, though, it's entirely irrelevant. We already know that the Muslim reaction was over the top. That's not the issue. The issue is whether or not the cartoons were appropriate to publish in the first place. Just because the protesters are assholes doesn't automatically make the cartoonists not assholes.
posted by magodesky at 9:06 PM on April 12, 2006


Obviously, I used an extreme example. I did that to illustrate a point. That point being that there are certain ways of depicting religious figures and icons that are just inappropriate. Not showing Mohammed's face is simply a sign of respect. It's as simple as that.

Ok, so which of Quran's teachings do I have to follow as a sign of respect towards Muslims, and which can I just skip over in-order to save time? I'll tell you right now, that no sex-or-pork one isn't going to fly...

You're completely missing the point. And this is exactly the problem with what South Park did. You're setting up a straw man and attacking that rather than dealing with the actual issues. There is no "state-run censorship board" in play here. The cartoons weren't censored. They were published in a newspaper. This despite the fact that they were bad cartoons. No one's right to free speech was violated.

We're talking about two different things. I'm talking generally, and you're talking specifically. I could really care less about the Danish cartoons because it's seems to me such an pointless thing to argue over. Yes the cartoons were offensive, but the reactions to them have been more offensive. Should we stop publishing cartoons because of their potential to offend? I refuse to follow any religion's arbitrary traditions just because it makes the followers of religion X feel more at ease, and protects them possibly being offended by the opinions of the rest of the world.

And as for the censorship board comment, it's just the logical conclusion to our growing problem of just exactly who is going to wave their wand and decide what is and is not appropriate for the public to see.

Like hell. Do you know how many death threats authors get for writing things about Jesus that aren't completely in keeping with evangelical teachings? Just because they don't make such a public show of their death threats doesn't mean they aren't there.

The public show is exactly the point. When an opinion exists to the extent that tens of thousands of people will march in the street to support it, it moves from the extreme fringe towards mainstream acceptance. Such opinions may exist in America, but when they are expressed in public they are most often condemned, and loudly so.

Regardless of who is more violent, though, it's entirely irrelevant. We already know that the Muslim reaction was over the top. That's not the issue. The issue is whether or not the cartoons were appropriate to publish in the first place. Just because the protesters are assholes doesn't automatically make the cartoonists not assholes.

Who's saying the cartoonists aren't assholes. I'm saying that assholes have just as much of a right to free speech as anyone else, and don't deserve to be threatened with death for being an asshole.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:17 PM on April 12, 2006


It goes without saying that Ann Coulter is not any sort of religious leader or cultural prophet

"Blow them all away, in the name of the Lord."
-Rev. Jerry Falwell
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:11 AM on April 13, 2006


.torrent for part 2.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:06 AM on April 13, 2006


Ok, so which of Quran's teachings do I have to follow as a sign of respect towards Muslims, and which can I just skip over in-order to save time? I'll tell you right now, that no sex-or-pork one isn't going to fly...

You're not getting it. It's not about having to follow the Quran's teachings. It's simply about respecting their beliefs. I'll give you an example. In many synagogues, it is considered disrespectful to enter without covering your head. This is the reason so many Jews wear yamacas. But most westerners don't share that tradition. In fact, keeping one's hat on inside is, if anything, considered disrespectful in most of America. But if you were to go to a synagogue where they do ask that you cover your head, would you refuse to do so? To what end? Because you can? Just to piss people off? Why should any of us respect you for doing something that's so blatantly antagonistic simply because you have the right to do so?

Yes the cartoons were offensive, but the reactions to them have been more offensive. Should we stop publishing cartoons because of their potential to offend?

Now you're just throwing out red herrings, though. Nobody's saying that the protests to the cartoons weren't offensive. And nobody's suggesting that anyone's work be censored.

And as for the censorship board comment, it's just the logical conclusion to our growing problem of just exactly who is going to wave their wand and decide what is and is not appropriate for the public to see.

No, it's not. Government censorship is very different from corporate censorship. Newspapers and television networks are privately owned and operated organizations. If an editor decides that something is inappropriate to print, that's not a violation of anyone's freedom of speech. It's not the editor's job to provide all artists with a venue for their work. But it IS the editor's job to decide what is and is not appropriate to print.

I'm saying that assholes have just as much of a right to free speech as anyone else, and don't deserve to be threatened with death for being an asshole.

Again, I don't see anyone disagreeing with you on that. But that's a very different issue from whether or not the cartoons were appropriate to print in the first place.
posted by magodesky at 10:38 AM on April 13, 2006


I'm not sure if it's been reported yet, but for what it's worth, I just got off the phone with a Comedy Central spokesman. I asked him about last night's episode of South Park in which, at a moment right before the prophet Mohammed was supposed to make a cameo, the words, "Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network" appeared on the screen.

I asked him whether this truly was Comedy Central's decision or whether this was just another gag (with South Park, you never know). He said:
They reflected it accurately. That was a Comedy Central decision.
Just in case there was any confusion, that settles it. Comedy Central censored the image.
http://media.nationalreview.com/094921.asp
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:43 AM on April 13, 2006


Y'know, the first rule of satire is to be funny. And hence, the concluding episode sucked bigtime.
posted by bardic at 1:33 PM on April 13, 2006


In many synagogues, it is considered disrespectful to enter without covering your head. This is the reason so many Jews wear yamacas. But most westerners don't share that tradition. In fact, keeping one's hat on inside is, if anything, considered disrespectful in most of America. But if you were to go to a synagogue where they do ask that you cover your head, would you refuse to do so? To what end? Because you can? Just to piss people off? Why should any of us respect you for doing something that's so blatantly antagonistic simply because you have the right to do so?

You know, in the two months or so people have been arguing over all this I've read way to many analogies and examples to count, but this one by far is the most concise, logical and fluid. Good job, magodesky.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:04 PM on April 13, 2006


It is a terrible analogy for either the South Park episode, or the Danish newspaper cartoons.

In magodesky's example the party making the decision (to be polite or offensive) is a guest, the other two are running their own productions and should be able to operate with their own standards.

A monthly class party at my university traditionally served alcohol. At one point several students tried to have the alcohol removed because it was said to offend Muslim students. To me, that seemed quite disrespectful of the traditions of my class. (This was all more than 10 years ago now, I can't tell you what happened..)
posted by Chuckles at 2:41 PM on April 13, 2006


Newspaper, synagogue, one of these things is not like the other.
posted by funambulist at 2:54 PM on April 13, 2006


A monthly class party at my university traditionally served alcohol. At one point several students tried to have the alcohol removed because it was said to offend Muslim students.

That's not the same thing, though. Muslim tradition says that Muslims can't drink alcohol. Doesn't say that other people have to give up alcohol just because there's a Muslim in the room. That doesn't have to do with respect as much as it does with those students being uptight. If you had something at the party that a reasonable Muslim would take offense at, then that would be a different story.

But in the case of covering your head when you enter a synagogue, you don't have to give up anything to do it. How hard is it to just put something on your head?

And it's the same thing with Muhammad. Artists have drawn Muhammad in the past. You know what they did? They just drew him with a sheet over his face. How hard is that?
posted by magodesky at 3:52 PM on April 13, 2006


In many synagogues, it is considered disrespectful to enter without covering your head. This is the reason so many Jews wear yamacas. But most westerners don't share that tradition. In fact, keeping one's hat on inside is, if anything, considered disrespectful in most of America. But if you were to go to a synagogue where they do ask that you cover your head, would you refuse to do so? To what end? Because you can? Just to piss people off?

There are a couple of things that bother me about this analogy, but I'm not really going to go into them too deeply. Suffice to say that the world is not a synagogue, and if it were, I think you would have more of an argument.

If it were me, I would wear the yarmulke because it's not that big of a deal to me, and it's just symbolic. But, I think if I were told it's disrespectful to not wear a yarmulke all the time, in the synagogue or not, regardless of one's religion, I wouldn't wear it. To me, it's a lot more like the second situation. It's like saying "images of our God", in the broad sense, "are above reproach simply because it's what we deeply believe in." Well, that's nice and I tolerate your views, but I am under no obligation to follow them simply because it may make you uncomfortable or feel disrespected. No religion or religious figure is above satire and parody simply because members of that religion say so. They may not like it but they have to tolerate it, just as I tolerate their views. This idea goes across the board.

It's like as if Catholics decided that eating fish on fridays is deeply important because the apostle Paul said so, and any one who doesn't eat meat on friday's is disrespecting Catholicism. It's arbitrary, antiquated, and I'm under no obligation to follow it. Are you eating fish on friday as a sign of respect?

No, it's not. Government censorship is very different from corporate censorship.

The point is, people aren't afraid to run images of Mohammed because they are poorly made, or not up to snuff, what have you. You could have the most well crafted crafted, insightful, all-singing all-dancing embodiment of pure art ever created, and the extremists would still ask for you head on a pike. Fuck that, I don't give in to the demands of a minority of people who exist in the middle ages.

Again, I don't see anyone disagreeing with you on that. But that's a very different issue from whether or not the cartoons were appropriate to print in the first place.

Well, I guess once you buy a newspaper you can decide what you do or do not want to print, huh. In this case, a public company, supported by advertisers, made an editorial decision - feel free to stage a boycott. Luckily, none of us individually gets to decide what other people can or cannot publish.

Newspapers and television networks are privately owned and operated organizations. If an editor decides that something is inappropriate to print, that's not a violation of anyone's freedom of speech. It's not the editor's job to provide all artists with a venue for their work. But it IS the editor's job to decide what is and is not appropriate to print.

Never mind, you made my point for me...
posted by SweetJesus at 4:50 PM on April 13, 2006


No religion or religious figure is above satire and parody simply because members of that religion say so.

I'm not suggesting that Muhammad should be above satire. But I think that satire should still be done respectfully. There's a difference between parody that's done to make a point and parody that's done just to piss people off.

It's like as if Catholics decided that eating fish on fridays is deeply important because the apostle Paul said so, and any one who doesn't eat meat on friday's is disrespecting Catholicism. It's arbitrary, antiquated, and I'm under no obligation to follow it. Are you eating fish on friday as a sign of respect?

That's a bad analogy because not eating meat on Fridays isn't about respect. It's about personal sacrifice. Nobody expects non-Catholics to observe that tradition. Now if you were to, say, put a crucifix in a glass of urine, that woud be different. A lot of people would probably find that disrespectful, regardless of whether or not you personally consider the crucifix to be a holy symbol.

You could have the most well crafted crafted, insightful, all-singing all-dancing embodiment of pure art ever created, and the extremists would still ask for you head on a pike.

It's still not censorship. It's overreaction. They're not the same.

Never mind, you made my point for me...

And what point is that? Honestly, what are you suggesting? That editors shouldn't have control over what gets printed in their own papers? That all media outlets should be opened up to any artist, no matter how offensive or poorly made their work may be? Do you have any idea what a chaotic mess that would be?

Do you really even know what your point is, or are you just waving the first amendment around because you can?
posted by magodesky at 5:28 PM on April 13, 2006


i don't like the synagogue analogy either---would you make the same case if it was about kneeling in a Catholic Church? Are you an asshole if you don't kneel? (I've been, and i didn't, and it's because of religious reasons, not respect or disrespect--guests are not assholes if they don't follow every ritual act or put on ritual garments like the followers of a religion do. I think imitating those rituals or wearing those garments without belief in the underlying things is far more disrespectful.)
posted by amberglow at 6:14 PM on April 13, 2006


That editors shouldn't have control over what gets printed in their own papers?

The problem is, magodesky, that if editors are allowed to decide what is unworthy to be printed, they also have to be allowed to decide what is worthy to be printed. So, unless you are the editor of a particular paper, you don't get any more say over what they print or don't than SweetJesus here. And your whining because some editorial decisions offended your particular sensibilities doesn't change that fact.

You want to try something easy, here's the easiest: if a newspaper offends you, read a different one.
posted by boaz at 6:21 PM on April 13, 2006


i don't like the synagogue analogy either---would you make the same case if it was about kneeling in a Catholic Church? Are you an asshole if you don't kneel? (I've been, and i didn't, and it's because of religious reasons, not respect or disrespect--guests are not assholes if they don't follow every ritual act or put on ritual garments like the followers of a religion do. I think imitating those rituals or wearing those garments without belief in the underlying things is far more disrespectful.)

Are you talking about all of the gestures all through the Mass or just the genuflecting? Because I don't think anyone really expects non-believers to do all of the gestures. But I do think it's good to genuflect when you enter the church simply out of respect for the place you're in. Of course, there's a lot more leeway on that one since most Catholics don't get too worked up over it. Hell, there are some Catholics who don't do it.

It's harder to draw proper comparisons to Christianity since they don't have a lot of signs of respect that are not also practiced by western society in general. But we could even take religion out of it. If you enter the home of a Japanese person, don't you take off your shoes? Why? Not because you believe that everyone should take off their shoes whenever they enter anyone's home. You simply do it out of respect for the other person's culture.

I'm sure someone will argue that in both this scenario and in the synagogue example, that the person in question is a guest. But when we're dealing with images of the Prophet, we're taking a symbol that is specific to a particular culture. So we are very much playing on their turf, so to speak.

But regardless, it's a false dilemma. Because the point is not that all of these cases are identical to each other. The point is merely that we often do behave in certain ways that we wouldn't normally in order to show our respect for other people's culture. And when we don't, people take offense.

The problem is, magodesky, that if editors are allowed to decide what is unworthy to be printed, they also have to be allowed to decide what is worthy to be printed. So, unless you are the editor of a particular paper, you don't get any more say over what they print or don't than SweetJesus here. And your whining because some editorial decisions offended your particular sensibilities doesn't change that fact.

First of all, I'm not whining about editorial decisions. I'm criticizing them. Because the first amendment, which is being so vehemently defended from its imaginary attackers in this thread, gives me that right. And when you publish something for the whole world to see, are you not implicitly asking for that work to be critiqued?

Which brings me to my second point. By vocally criticizing editorial decisions, we do have a say in what gets printed. Because editors don't make decisions about what gets published solely on their own personal feelings about the issues. They're trying to sell papers. And they make decisions about what gets published based on what they think people will want to read.

You want to try something easy, here's the easiest: if a newspaper offends you, read a different one.

So by your thinking, is it wrong to criticize white supremicist materials as being offensive simply because one is capable of choosing not to read them?
posted by magodesky at 7:28 PM on April 13, 2006


That's a bad analogy because not eating meat on Fridays isn't about respect. It's about personal sacrifice. Nobody expects non-Catholics to observe that tradition. Now if you were to, say, put a crucifix in a glass of urine, that would be different. A lot of people would probably find that disrespectful, regardless of whether or not you personally consider the crucifix to be a holy symbol.

It's hypothetical, not actual - I should have made that more clear. I was taking a piece of Catholic dogma, and adapting into a similar situation. If Catholics were righteously demanding everyone eat fish on fridays as a sign of respect, would you do it? It's the exact same thing - attempting to make mandatory for all an outrageous claim based on superstition.

Fuck it, I'm not rolling with that. You call it respect, I call going against what I believe in.

And what point is that? Honestly, what are you suggesting? That editors shouldn't have control over what gets printed in their own papers? That all media outlets should be opened up to any artist, no matter how offensive or poorly made their work may be? Do you have any idea what a chaotic mess that would be?

No! I'm suggesting the exact opposite. These editors made an editorial decision, it's their fucking paper - they reap what they sew. You don't like it, you don't think they should have been published. That's where we are..

The larger issue is, do you think it's appropriate to show an image of Mohammed in any way?
posted by SweetJesus at 7:37 PM on April 13, 2006


And when you publish something for the whole world to see, are you not implicitly asking for that work to be critiqued?

First, they published them in a Danish newspaper; you live in Pittsburgh. I'm pretty sure that completely removes you from the target market. Considering that Danish people are overwhelmingly supportive of the newspaper's right to publish it, maybe you should take a little of that "respect for other cultures" you've been smoking and show it for the Danish culture it was published for.

They're trying to sell papers. And they make decisions about what gets published based on what they think people will want to read.

Yup, and they got lots of people to read their cartoons. In fact, they even got people whining talking about them 6 months later. They win; you lose.
posted by boaz at 7:40 PM on April 13, 2006


Look, it's really easy to understand: that South Park episode, those Danish cartoons, that Piss Christ, etc. did not break and enter into the home/synagogue/mosque/church of any practicing Muslim/Christian and held them captive to subject them to their own views. You had to buy the newspaper, go to the art gallery, or turn on the tv and switch to a paid channel to watch a show whose style of satire by now everyone is familiar with.

The world is not a church indeed and people who demand it becomes so are the ones with a problem of basic understanding of that separation. They're the ones breaking and entering.


More so when their objections are not simply expressed through normal channels of protest but come in the form of death threats and violence stirred and endorsed by political, national and religious leaders.

Even if the offending party were not artists or cartoonists or tv producers but white supremacists and hate propaganda - nice switch there - then there's still a big difference between legitimate political reactions and violence. The moment you use violence to respond to satire or even hateful speech, you're in the wrong.
posted by funambulist at 1:27 AM on April 14, 2006


If Catholics were righteously demanding everyone eat fish on fridays as a sign of respect, would you do it? It's the exact same thing - attempting to make mandatory for all an outrageous claim based on superstition.

It's not the same thing, though. Trying to get everyone in the world to eat fish on Fridays out of "respect" is a ridiculous expectation. First, how you would even connect eating fish to respect is beyond me. But more importantly, in that situation you would be forced to sacrifice your own dietary practices for the sake of someone else's beliefs. In the case of showing the Prophet, what are you forced to give up by not showing Muhammad's face other than the opportunity to piss off a lot of people?

The larger issue is, do you think it's appropriate to show an image of Mohammed in any way?

I probably wouldn't go as far as say that all depictions of Muhammad are inappropriate. But it is questionable. There's a lot of debate about it. There have been depictions of Muhammad's face in the past. And generally, when they're done tastefully, they don't cause too much of a stir. But I think it's something you have to be careful with because it is sort of on the borderline. So it's very easy to cross the line. If it were me, I'd probably just put the traditional sheet over Muhammad's face, simply out of respect for the culture.

First, they published them in a Danish newspaper; you live in Pittsburgh. I'm pretty sure that completely removes you from the target market.

So it's only okay to criticize a work if you're part of their "target market?" What happened to that freedom of speech? Or does that only apply when people are saying things that you personally like to hear?

Considering that Danish people are overwhelmingly supportive of the newspaper's right to publish it, maybe you should take a little of that "respect for other cultures" you've been smoking and show it for the Danish culture it was published for.

Respecting other cultures does not extend to whole-heartedly supporting everything that the majority of their population supports (although I DO support their right to publish it and never suggeted otherwise). Nor does it extend to supporting racist propaganda.

So by your reasoning, is blackface okay? You can't say that it's bad because you weren't in the target marget that the works were meant for. In fact, the people for whom such presentations were performed overwhelmingly supported the artists' right to use blackface. Doesn't that mean that if you respect the culture, you must also support blackface?

Even if the offending party were not artists or cartoonists or tv producers but white supremacists and hate propaganda - nice switch there...

But it's not a switch. Hate propaganda is exactly what these cartoons are.

...then there's still a big difference between legitimate political reactions and violence. The moment you use violence to respond to satire or even hateful speech, you're in the wrong.

No one's defending the violent reactions to the cartoons. So please stop trying to use that particular straw man.
posted by magodesky at 6:29 AM on April 14, 2006


Racist propaganda? You understand that Islam is a religion, right? And that a religion is a different thing from a race? Just checking. The funniest time this happened was when I got accused of being a racist for dissing Cat Stevens' religious beliefs. Yup, it seems even blindingly white honkeys are a separate race if they have the right invisible friend.

So by your reasoning, is blackface okay? You can't say that it's bad because you weren't in the target marget that the works were meant for. In fact, the people for whom such presentations were performed overwhelmingly supported the artists' right to use blackface. Doesn't that mean that if you respect the culture, you must also support blackface?

Whoosh, right over his head. The point, which I can't even comprehend the level of idiocy required to miss, is that an all-encompassing "respect for other cultures" is a really stupid idea. If you want to comment on a culture, whether it be Blackface Minstrelsy, Danish or Islamic, then you are inevitably going to offend the people who are in the culture. For example, your comments would offend many Danes, and, you see, that's not a problem. Just like cartoons that comment negatively on Islamic culture will offend Muslims. Those are features not bugs. So please don't fool yourself into thinking you're doing absolutely anyone absolutely any good by screeching moronically about 'racist propaganda'.
posted by boaz at 8:08 AM on April 14, 2006


No one's defending the violent reactions to the cartoons.

I must have heard that a thousand times, from the very same people who went on and on about how the cartoons that provoked those reactions were at best an unnecessary provocation, at worst racist propaganda comparable to the KKK material, the protesters were right to be pissed off, you have to understand, their religion was offended, the Danish paper and Prime Minister should apologise, and so on and so forth, which effectively means not really taking into consideration the impac t and significance of the riots, death threats, embassies burnings, the well oiled machinery that set those protests in motion, and also making the protesters more representative than they actually were.

Apparently it only takes a bunch of outraged fanatics and the world listens.

The "obviously no one is defending that violence" was always accompanied by that implication that the provocateurs asked for it, they don't deserve it sure but they asked for it, they should have known... which kind of turns the condemnation of violence into a dismissal of it as an inevitable side effect of dealing with Muslims, which, if we really have to bring the word 'racism' into this, I find a lot more patronising than the expectation that any religion not make ridiculous demands on secular areas of public life.
posted by funambulist at 8:39 AM on April 14, 2006


First, how you would even connect eating fish to respect is beyond me. But more importantly, in that situation you would be forced to sacrifice your own dietary practices for the sake of someone else's beliefs. In the case of showing the Prophet, what are you forced to give up by not showing Mohammed's face other than the opportunity to piss off a lot of people?

It is exactly the same thing. What makes showing images of the prophet Mohammed disrespectful other than because the Quran says it's disrespectful? Don't you see that it's simply based on 1500 years of superstition, and the only ones who are incensed by it are the radicals? Moderate Muslims may not like it, but they tolerate it. You are being put in the position of defending the reactions of a handful of radicals to ink on paper, and tacitly allowing these radicals to infringe on your freedom of expression because they are living in another eon.

Trying to get everyone in the world to eat fish on Fridays out of "respect" is a ridiculous expectation.

As is attempting to keep the entire world from ever depicting an image of your Prophet because your holy book tells you it's blasphemous... You see where I'm coming from? I'm not bound by their beliefs, even if my belief's offend them.

I probably wouldn't go as far as say that all depictions of Mohammed are inappropriate. But it is questionable. There's a lot of debate about it. There have been depictions of Mohammed's face in the past. And generally, when they're done tastefully, they don't cause too much of a stir. But I think it's something you have to be careful with because it is sort of on the borderline. So it's very easy to cross the line. If it were me, I'd probably just put the traditional sheet over Mohammed's face, simply out of respect for the culture.

Tough titty for them. My artistic expression is not limited by what makes others uncomfortable. Mohammed's image is a symbol - nothing more, nothing less. Once we start saying, "Oh well, these symbols are up for grabs artistically, but these over here make people too upset so stay away" we lose our collective integrity.

No one's defending the violent reactions to the cartoons.

You're enabling them. You're general argument is that the cartoons were racist propaganda, and we shouldn't spit in people's eyes. You then go on to say that showing any image of Mohammed is in "questionable", so right there you're basically saying any image of Mohammed is akin to an insult. You may not have said it directly, but that's the gist of your argument.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:41 AM on April 14, 2006


Racist propaganda? You understand that Islam is a religion, right?

It's also a firmly implanted part of the Arab culture. The cartoons were basically accusing all Arabs of being terrorists. And that's racist.

But let's just say, for the sake of argument, that you're right. It's not racial bigotry. It's religious bigotry. Wow. Isn't that a significant difference?

For example, your comments would offend many Danes, and, you see, that's not a problem.

How would any of my comments be offensive to Danes? I'm not criticizing Denmark. I'm criticizing the decisions of a few individual Danes. That's very different from drawing a cartoon specifically intended to offend an entire culture.

So please don't fool yourself into thinking you're doing absolutely anyone absolutely any good by screeching moronically about 'racist propaganda'.

So far, boaz, you're the one who's been throwing ad hominems around all over the place. So if I were you, I wouldn't be talking about anyone else "screeching moronically."

funambulist - I'm not going to quote that whole thing. Suffice to say, your entire post about the implications of what I or anyone else supposedly said is merely another straw man. You're attacking what you wish I would have said rather than what I did say. And frankly, it sounds to me as though these "implications" exist mostly in the minds of ethnocentric westerners incapable of holding two separate issues in their heads at the same time. Because that would require, you know, the ability for abstract thought. So since we know that the Muslims are always wrong, that must mean that the Danes are always right.

What makes showing images of the prophet Mohammed disrespectful other than because the Quran says it's disrespectful? Don't you see that it's simply based on 1500 years of superstition, and the only ones who are incensed by it are the radicals? Moderate Muslims may not like it, but they tolerate it.

What makes my pissing on your mother's grave disrespectful other than because someone else says it's disrespectful? Don't you see that it's simply based on thousands of years of superstition, and the only ones who are incensed by it are the radicals? Moederate people may not like it, but they tolerate it.

As is attempting to keep the entire world from ever depicting an image of your Prophet because your holy book tells you it's blasphemous... You see where I'm coming from? I'm not bound by their beliefs, even if my belief's offend them.

I like how you conveniently left out the end of my paragraph when you responded to it. But perhaps you can go back and answer the question for me. What are you forced to give up by not showing Muhammad's face other than the opportunity to piss people off?

My artistic expression is not limited by what makes others uncomfortable.

That's right. And if you choose to use your freedom to create a work that makes people uncomfortable for no reason other than to offend, the rest of us are just as free to call you an asshole for doing so.

You're enabling them. You're general argument is that the cartoons were racist propaganda, and we shouldn't spit in people's eyes. You then go on to say that showing any image of Mohammed is in "questionable", so right there you're basically saying any image of Mohammed is akin to an insult. You may not have said it directly, but that's the gist of your argument.

Not quite what I was trying to get across, but regardless, I fail to see how any of that is "enabling" violence.
posted by magodesky at 10:30 AM on April 14, 2006


What makes my pissing on your mother's grave disrespectful other than because someone else says it's disrespectful? Don't you see that it's simply based on thousands of years of superstition, and the only ones who are incensed by it are the radicals? moderate people may not like it, but they tolerate it.

Well, gee, I don't know. You're comparing an image of Mohammed to the physical act of pissing on one's mother's grave, and you see the two as equal? Of course, one person actually existed on this planet, physically tangible to all around them, and the other is a symbol of religious thought. You don't see the difference? Symbols and people aren't the same.

You can reach for the most sadistic, copropheliac imagery you want and put it against an image of the prophet, but that doesn't make them equal. That line of argument is absurd.

I like how you conveniently left out the end of my paragraph when you responded to it. But perhaps you can go back and answer the question for me. What are you forced to give up by not showing Mohammed's face other than the opportunity to piss people off?

I've giving up the opportunity to make a social statement, a statement that says your system of beliefs is not above reproach. If I feel I have something to say, I and I want to use a symbolic representation of Islam in the form of the prophet Mohammed in-order to get my point across, you have no right to tell me that's out of bounds. It's not a person, it's not physical, it's not akin to pissing on a human's grave.

That's right. And if you choose to use your freedom to create a work that makes people uncomfortable for no reason other than to offend, the rest of us are just as free to call you an asshole for doing so.

Fine, I have no problem with you calling me an asshole. I have a problem with the idea that religious symbols are above reproach because members of that religion say so, and people telling me that one is essentially "asking" for death threats by exercising freedom of speech.

Not quite what I was trying to get across, but regardless, I fail to see how any of that is "enabling" violence.

Fine, maybe not enabling it, but you're certainly condoning it in so many words.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:58 AM on April 14, 2006


You're attacking what you wish I would have said rather than what I did say.

no, magodesky, try reading it again, it started with "I must have heard that a thousand times, from the very same people who...", it's a comment on the prolific debate that has taken place in Europe in February. I know what I heard and read with my own ears and eyes in countless interviews, articles, political statements, debates, essays, columns, talks, etc.

It was pretty much a rehashing of the reactions to the fatwa against Rushdie, who today may be a media darling but back then had few unqualified defenders.

The "of course violence is wrong and indefensible but they asked for it" was articulated both very explicitely and in a variety of less explicit forms.

That kind of "of course/but" was a staple of the whole debate. Of course we should defend free speech, but not when it offends religion or a religious group or community. Of course we live in a secular society, but the sensibilities of religious communities are sacred. Of course religious communities are not a monolithic thing, but those who shout loudest are those we are forced to deal with, the rest be damned.


I'm not saying you are saying precisely that or all that, but your argument does fall in the camp of "special exceptions for religion/offended sensibilities", you've articulated that very clearly. Yet you still fail to see the contradiction in your absurd analogies (pissing on someone's grave, now? how much further from the actual case can you get?) because here it was exactly a case of religion failing to respect the rules and laws of the secular synagogue we all live in, religious or not, and not only that but making very heavy demands for special exceptions.
posted by funambulist at 11:15 AM on April 14, 2006


Well, gee, I don't know. You're comparing an image of Mohammed to the physical act of pissing on one's mother's grave, and you see the two as equal?

Once again, you're failing to see the significant part of the comparison. No, they're not exactly the same. But they are the same in that both the act of pissing on the grave of somebody's mother and the act of showing Muhammad's face are considered disrespectful simply because a bunch of people a long time ago decided that it was. That's the case with all of our signs of respect. So to say that you're not going to do something just because somebody a long time ago decided that it's respectful means you're never going to show respect for anybody or anything ever again.

Of course, one person actually existed on this planet, physically tangible to all around them, and the other is a symbol of religious thought. You don't see the difference? Symbols and people aren't the same.

Muhammad was also a real person. And your mother's grave isn't a real person. It's a symbol of a real person. Symbols do have power. And if they didn't, why would you care about someone pissing on your mother's grave?

I've giving up the opportunity to make a social statement, a statement that says your system of beliefs is not above reproach. If I feel I have something to say, I and I want to use a symbolic representation of Islam in the form of the prophet Mohammed in-order to get my point across, you have no right to tell me that's out of bounds.

You can't make a social statement without being inflammatory? That's kind of sad.

I have a problem with the idea that religious symbols are above reproach because members of that religion say so, and people telling me that one is essentially "asking" for death threats by exercising freedom of speech.

I'm not saying that religious symbols are "above reproach." I'm simply saying that when you use a symbol that has significance to other people, you should do so in a way that is tasteful. If you can't do that, then you're not really interested in making a point. You're just interested in making petty insults.

And no one is telling you that anyone is "asking for death threats." The response of Muslim protesters is completely unrelated to the issue of whether or not the cartoons were appropriate in the first place.

Fine, maybe not enabling it, but you're certainly condoning it in so many words.

How so? I've never said anything condoning the violence. In fact, I've said several times that the violent responses were totally inappropriate. Anyone who can infer condonation from that will be able to twist my words to mean whatever they want, so there's not much I can do about it, is there?
posted by magodesky at 11:22 AM on April 14, 2006


I think people need to remember too, that Islam bans ALL imagery --there's no visible symbol at all, except for text and certain words and phrases, i think. There are no statues in mosques or paintings or stained glass or frescos telling stories of the faith or representations of Mohammed or his family or anyone. ...let alone little metal Jesuses as jewelry or children's books or billboards or ...

The God of Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam is not visible, even tho Christians and Catholics depict him so. There really is no form to God to depict (no old white man with flowing gray hair, etc), altho people do so anyway. There's not a thing about God's real shape in any bible or koran, etc, i don't think either--except when God assumes a form (burning bush, etc). Correct me if i'm wrong.
posted by amberglow at 11:31 AM on April 14, 2006


Islam bans ALL imagery

Boy, am I tired of this. (Although, It's not as bad as the "70 virgins" BS.)

It really depends on the particular sect, place, and time as to whether or not depictions of Muhammed are allowed or not.

For instance.

However, depictions of Allah, the unmanifest One, are always idolatrous. I do not have a cite, but I would not be surprised if some Muslims find the prohibitions on depicting Muhammed to be the heretic teachings, as they seem to conflate Allah and Muhammed, who is most emphatically NOT God in the sense that Christians take Christ to be "God on Earth."
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:39 AM on April 14, 2006


drawing a cartoon specifically intended to offend an entire culture.
The cartoons were basically accusing all Arabs of being terrorists.

Man, and you're accusing others of attacking strawmen. I'm reminded of the old joke: A psychiatrist is giving a patient a Rorshasch test. Looking at the first inkblot, the patient says, "That's two girls making out." To the second, "That's a guy getting a blowjob.", and to the third, "That's two people screwing." Finally the psychiatrist says, "You seem to have a hang-up about sex." To which the patient replies, "Well, you're the one showing me all these dirty pictures."

On preview: Look, Judaism bans religious images of God, but that applies to the Sistine Synagogue, not the Sistine Chapel. There's an important distinction there that I hope one would take the time to understand.
posted by boaz at 11:43 AM on April 14, 2006


You can't make a social statement without being inflammatory? That's kind of sad.

Social statements make make some uncomfortable, but that doesn't make them inflammatory. It's can be my way of saying I don't agree with what you preach, the same as any modification of the image of Jesus or Buddah. What makes them as symbols ok, where Mohammed is not? Simply the whim of a minority's school of thought, which you're ready to cave to. Who the hell says you have the right to remain comfortable, and not be confronted by something that makes you uneasy? Learn to live in the real world.

Mohammed was also a real person. And your mother's grave isn't a real person. It's a symbol of a real person. Symbols do have power. And if they didn't, why would you care about someone pissing on your mother's grave?

Well, I think the world's view's on my mother as a symbol, and the world's views on Mohammed as a symbol are completely different. If my mother was a prophet and symbol of a religious school of thought, it would be a different story. I would have a problem with it, but it would be more understandable.

Also, in the west we tend to use images for the purpose of satire and parody, where as urine has not yet caught on as a common tool public expression. Catch my drift?

I'm not saying that religious symbols are "above reproach." I'm simply saying that when you use a symbol that has significance to other people, you should do so in a way that is tasteful. If you can't do that, then you're not really interested in making a point. You're just interested in making petty insults.

You are, that's exactly what you're saying. You're saying a representation of the of Mohammed, an anthropomorphized symbol of the Islamic religion, is off limits because it's been off limits for a thousands years. Well, tough shit! People evolve, and old idea's and customs are tossed away to make room for new ones. It's not always comfortable, but such is the evolution of human society.

Once again, you're failing to see the significant part of the comparison. No, they're not exactly the same. But they are the same in that both the act of pissing on the grave of somebody's mother and the act of showing Mohammed's face are considered disrespectful simply because a bunch of people a long time ago decided that it was. That's the case with all of our signs of respect.

except my mother is my mother, an actual human being what I came out of, oh so many years ago. A drawing of the prophet Mohammed is a symbolic representation of a religion that carries along with it certain implicit values. modifying this symbol is a way of expressing one's views on said religion. If you can't see the difference, it's hopeless.

Islam bans ALL imagery

Boy, am I tired of this. (Although, It's not as bad as the "70 virgins" BS.)


CAIR disagrees with you
:

The Council of American-Islamic Relation states in a press release:
Islam forbids visual depictions of the prophet and regards violations by Muslims as highly sinful and by non-Muslims as the ultimate insult.

The prohibition is in part an application of the Quran's strict opposition to idolatry, the worship of a physical object as a god, including any hint of such devotion toward the faith's revered human prophet.
So, uh, you're incorrect.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:53 AM on April 14, 2006


I didn't paint them.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:59 AM on April 14, 2006


Incorrect as it stands to the views of the people who protesting the images. Moderate Muslims, I'm sure, have a variety of views. The people protesting believe any image is blasphemous regardless of intent.

To attempt to state otherwise with links to 13th century art another conversation altogether. The 13th century != the 21st century.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:01 PM on April 14, 2006


Of course it's incorrect to some people. It is not inherent to Islam, unless you deny that the brand of Persian Shi'ism that produced most of those pictures is "true Islam," as no doubt many Muslims would like to do. These traditions aren't dead though, just out of vogue. There are probably not many depictions of Muhammed around in Iran now, due to the political situation, but it would be ridiculous to assume the mindset that allows such depiction has completely disappeared.

Most medieval Christians had substantially different views than what is considered mainstream Christianity. That does not exclude them from Christianity as such.

Just because something is the current fashion in theology does not make it fundamental to the tradition.

I understand that it is only some people protesting. They are attempting to frame the debate on their own terms.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:07 PM on April 14, 2006


But they are the same in that both the act of pissing on the grave of somebody's mother and the act of showing Muhammad's face are considered disrespectful simply because a bunch of people a long time ago decided that it was. That's the case with all of our signs of respect.

That's a pretty bizarre notion and no, it's not the case for all signs of respect.

No one long time ago decided to write down sacred instructions that pissing on someone's grave is disrespectful, because of religious reasons or otherwise, and suddenly something everyone was doing as a regular neutral activity became disrespectful and maybe even banned.

That only happened in an alternate universe, the same where everyone is supposed to share the belief that a man was speaking on behalf of a divine entity and therefore not only any criticism of his doings and his teachings and legacy is banned, but also any image of him, from the caricature to the neutral.

But anyway. Every aspect of the respect for religion/offended sensibilities debate has already been rehashed over and over, by now, there's nothing more that can be added. Until the next big outrage bang, at least.
posted by funambulist at 12:13 PM on April 14, 2006


No one long time ago decided to write down sacred instructions that pissing on someone's grave is disrespectful, because of religious reasons or otherwise, and suddenly something everyone was doing as a regular neutral activity became disrespectful and maybe even banned.

In this book, there was a bit about men urinating on graves or places where a virginal girl was supposed to have died. This was somehow connected with her need to be deflowered to properly handle the afterlife. I wish I had the exact bit handy.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:18 PM on April 14, 2006


There are probably not many depictions of Mohammed around in Iran now, due to the political situation, but it would be ridiculous to assume the mindset that allows such depiction has completely disappeared.

I don't doubt that it's true, but I'm arguing from a certain base assumption. CAIR, which represents less than moderate muslims, has made their position clear. What we're really talking about, and have yet to call by name, are the religious sensibilities of Wahhabist Muslims - those who have no respect for other symbolic institutions, yet demand respect for their own. Why should I afford them that? Why should I keep my mouth shut because it makes them feel uncomfortable?
posted by SweetJesus at 12:20 PM on April 14, 2006


Why should I keep my mouth shut because it makes them feel uncomfortable?

Nice little embassy you got there. A real beauty. Shame if anything were to happen to it.
posted by boaz at 12:23 PM on April 14, 2006


Nice little embassy you got there. A real beauty. Shame if anything were to happen to it.

Just like the manatee, I am unmoved by terrorist threats.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:25 PM on April 14, 2006


Why should I keep my mouth shut because it makes them feel uncomfortable?

Well, I don't think you should. Those folks don't speak for all Muslims, no matter how much they'd like to.

I can't help but feel this whole controversy is about half-way contrived, though. There are multiple parties on both sides who are more than happy to promote the false dialectic of West vs. East.

You know who I mean.

Miniature Danish flag manufacturers.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:29 PM on April 14, 2006


Man, and you're accusing others of attacking strawmen. I'm reminded of the old joke: A psychiatrist is giving a patient a Rorshasch test. Looking at the first inkblot, the patient says, "That's two girls making out." To the second, "That's a guy getting a blowjob.", and to the third, "That's two people screwing." Finally the psychiatrist says, "You seem to have a hang-up about sex." To which the patient replies, "Well, you're the one showing me all these dirty pictures."

Okay, so tell me. What other interpretation is there for a picture of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban? Are you going to tell me that this is some kind of subtle social commentary?

Social statements make make some uncomfortable, but that doesn't make them inflammatory.

No, what makes them inflammatory is when they're inflammatory. If your work has no point to it other than to piss people off, that's inflammatory. And yeah, you might be proud of yourself for "defending freedom of speech," but the reality is that all you're doing is offending a lot of people just to make yourself feel important. And I would hope that you would have enough respect for yourself and for the community to not pull that kind of stunt.

You are, that's exactly what you're saying. You're saying a representation of the of Mohammed, an anthropomorphized symbol of the Islamic religion, is off limits because it's been off limits for a thousands years.

No, I'm saying that if you use a symbol like that, you need to be respectful of the culture you're taking it from. That's all. What's so fucking hard about that?

Well, tough shit! People evolve...

No, they don't. Species evolve.

except my mother is my mother, an actual human being what I came out of, oh so many years ago. A drawing of the prophet Mohammed is a symbolic representation of a religion that carries along with it certain implicit values. modifying this symbol is a way of expressing one's views on said religion. If you can't see the difference, it's hopeless.

I see the difference. You care about your mother but not about Islam. So basically, it's all about what a person or thing means to you personally. If you don't know someone, that person is unworthy of respect. That's not just a little bit egocentric, right?

That's a pretty bizarre notion and no, it's not the case for all signs of respect.

No one long time ago decided to write down sacred instructions that pissing on someone's grave is disrespectful, because of religious reasons or otherwise, and suddenly something everyone was doing as a regular neutral activity became disrespectful and maybe even banned.


That's right. It became a sign of disrespect through generation upon generation of tradition. Just like showing the faces of particular holy figures became a sign of disrespect through generations of tradition. The point is there's absolutely no difference between this tradition and any other tradition regarding respect. So if you're going to refuse to abide by this one simply because it's old, then logically, you have to give up every other sign of respect too.
posted by magodesky at 1:06 PM on April 14, 2006


Wasn't imagery part of the reason that the Catholic Church split into Eastern and Western ages ago?
posted by amberglow at 1:15 PM on April 14, 2006


amberglow: Iconoclasm
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:17 PM on April 14, 2006


ahh--the Council of Nicaea! that's it!

thanks, son : >

interesting: ...Essentially the argument was "all religious images not of our faith are idols; all images of our faith are icons to be venerated." ...
posted by amberglow at 1:22 PM on April 14, 2006


No, they don't. Species evolve.

What? Are you an idiot? Are you attempting to argue about the definition of the world "evolve"? Oh for fuck's sake, that line of argument won't fly.
v. e·evolved, e·volv·ing, e·volves
#1a. To develop or achieve gradually: evolve a style of one's own.
#1b. To work (something) out; devise: “the schemes he evolved to line his purse” (S.J. Perelman).
I'm well aware of the uses of the word "evolve". Argue to the point, not semantics.

No, what makes them inflammatory is when they're inflammatory. If your work has no point to it other than to piss people off, that's inflammatory. And yeah, you might be proud of yourself for "defending freedom of speech," but the reality is that all you're doing is offending a lot of people just to make yourself feel important. And I would hope that you would have enough respect for yourself and for the community to not pull that kind of stunt.

You are not the arbiter of what is and is not inflammatory, and nether am I. The very fact you feel free to make decisions about what others may or may not publish because something *might* be considered inflammatory shows the authoritarian school of thought you're coming from.

I see the difference. You care about your mother but not about Islam. So basically, it's all about what a person or thing means to you personally. If you don't know someone, that person is unworthy of respect. That's not just a little bit egocentric, right

Wrong - the world community does not have a stake in my mother's image the way it does in the image of Mohammed. The image of Mohammed does not directly represent the "man" Mohammed, but rather Islam it's self. My mother stands alone, and doesn't represent a school of thought or a philosophy. So when you piss on my mother, you're doing it as a personal insult, and not a philosophical statement.

That's the difference. Yours is a piss-poor analogy, if you'll pardon my pun.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:30 PM on April 14, 2006


What other interpretation is there for a picture of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban?

Hold it, so the only realistic interpretation of a picture of Mohammed with a bomb turban is that it says absolutely all Arabs are terrorists. Even the Christian ones? Do you really need the problems with this interpretation explained to you? In detail? It's social commentary all right, but subtlety is in the blockheadedness of the beholder it seems.
posted by boaz at 1:51 PM on April 14, 2006


What? Are you an idiot? Are you attempting to argue about the definition of the world "evolve"? Oh for fuck's sake, that line of argument won't fly.

v. e·evolved, e·volv·ing, e·volves
#1a. To develop or achieve gradually: evolve a style of one's own.
#1b. To work (something) out; devise: “the schemes he evolved to line his purse” (S.J. Perelman).


You realize that neither of those definitions make any more sense in the context you used, right?

You are not the arbiter of what is and is not inflammatory, and nether am I.

Never claimed otherwise.

The very fact you feel free to make decisions about what others may or may not publish because something *might* be considered inflammatory shows the authoritarian school of thought you're coming from.

You'll forgive me if I'm not terribly offended by the label of "authoritarian," considering that I'm probably one of the most anarchistic people here.

I'm not talking about what people can do. I'm talking about what they should do. You're talking about what they can do. Without an opponent, I might add.

You're arguing with yourself! And losing!

Wrong - the world community does not have a stake in my mother's image the way it does in the image of Mohammed. The image of Mohammed does not directly represent the "man" Mohammed, but rather Islam it's self. My mother stands alone, and doesn't represent a school of thought or a philosophy. So when you piss on my mother, you're doing it as a personal insult, and not a philosophical statement.

So, if I understand this correctly, it's wrong to insult a single individual. But insulting a large group of people is okay?

Think about that.

Yours is a piss-poor analogy, if you'll pardon my pun.

No pun is pardonable.

Hold it, so the only realistic interpretation of a picture of Mohammed with a bomb turban is that it says absolutely all Arabs are terrorists. Even the Christian ones? Do you really need the problems with this interpretation explained to you?

Okay, so it's just that all Muslims are terrorists. That makes it so much better. Thanks for clearing that up.
posted by magodesky at 2:12 PM on April 14, 2006


That article on iconoclasm was interesting but this passage struck me as a bit off:The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem was built on top of the remains of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Similar acts of iconoclasm occurred in parts of north Africa. Since the temple was destroyed 600 years before the Dome of the Rock was built, that had to be some crazy slo-mo iconoclasm at work there. Or, IMHO, not an act of iconoclasm at all.

On preview: no, it's not that either, magodesky. In fact, it's not saying a single thing about all of any group, just like you're not saying anything about all Danes, or all newspaper editors. Now, are you actually ever planning to be right about something? Or are you just going to sarcastically admit to being wrong again and again?
posted by boaz at 2:18 PM on April 14, 2006


SweetJesus, you haven't learnt the tactics of respect: you are offended by piss-poor analogies, then you must demand an insincere piss-poor apology OR ELSE.

Threaten something! Agitate! Riot! Protest! Not against war, torture, human rights abuses, inequality, unfair laws, unemployment, corruption, repression, discrimination, censorship, no, those are all irrelevant, you have to riot against images and tv shows and movies that some clerics with a deep interest in your wellbeing taught you to view as deeply offensive to the principles those clerics so disintestedly defend. That's the way that people evolve.
posted by funambulist at 2:21 PM on April 14, 2006


On preview: no, it's not that either, magodesky. In fact, it's not saying a single thing about all of any group, just like you're not saying anything about all Danes, or all newspaper editors.

Oh, sure. And blackface performers weren't making fun of all black people, right? Just the ones on stage.

Look, I'm sure you've convinced yourself that since the Muslims were clearly wrong that you can never admit that the people they were protesting have been wrong about anything ever in their entire lives, but we all got what that cartoon was about even if you didn't. It wasn't terribly subtle.

Now, are you actually ever planning to be right about something?

You go first.

SweetJesus, you haven't learnt the tactics of respect: you are offended by piss-poor analogies, then you must demand an insincere piss-poor apology OR ELSE.

Yeah, SweetJesus. And then no one will ever be able to criticize anything you have done, are doing, or will do at any time in the future. Isn't irrational dualism grand?
posted by magodesky at 3:18 PM on April 14, 2006


Oh, sure. And blackface performers weren't making fun of all black people, right? Just the ones on stage.

Isn't the point of blackface that the people on stage aren't actually black? But you do have a way with the stupid analogies.

It wasn't terribly subtle.

I wouldn't have thought so either, but you're still here. I'll make it simple. There's an iconic editorial cartoon which shows the Pope smiling and waving and then, in his shadown, it shows a priest and a kid in a manner that suggests the priest is molesting the boy. Now, if I were arguing with an idiot, he might claim that this is an example of anti-Catholic bigotry, because it accuses every last Catholic priest on the face of the Earth of being a child molester. Then I would patiently explain that, no, it doesn't say anything about all priests; it's specifically referring to the priests who did molest children, and the leadership that covered it up that it's commenting on. It's not a crazy claim; it's a metaphorical image of a set of events that actually happened. Then, the idiot would either see that the image was commenting on a specific subset of the group that engaged in specific, hateful actions ... or he would keep on whining about how it claims all Catholic priests are child molesters so he could continue to focus his outrage on the cartoon.
posted by boaz at 3:32 PM on April 14, 2006


Isn't the point of blackface that the people on stage aren't actually black? But you do have a way with the stupid analogies.

Not.at.all. Black performers weren't allowed on most all stages in white theaters. Blackface was always mocking and derogatory, and it was part of a panoply of offensive ethnic and racial stereotypes popular until just recently. I'd say Mickey Rooney in yellowface in Breakfast at Tiffany's was one of the most visible last gasps, maybe.
posted by amberglow at 3:43 PM on April 14, 2006


oh, i wanted to add about those Danish cartoons--it wasn't just one--it was a series, and i believe dogs (considered unclean) and bare feet were involved too, not just mohammed in a bomb turban--they were carefully crafted to be extraordinarily offensive towards Muslims and the Arab world in general.
posted by amberglow at 3:45 PM on April 14, 2006


I'm impressed, boaz. I thought my last post was simple enough that even you would get it. You continue to surprise me.

If the cartoonist simply wanted to criticize the specific Muslims responsible for terrorist attacks, he would have made a cartoon about some generic Muslim who happens to be a terrorist, the way that the cartoon you're talking about uses a generic priest who happens to be a pedophile. But he chose to use Muhammad. Since Muhammad is widely recognized as a symbol of Islam, this cartoon suggests that Islam is a religion of terrorists. Just like if a cartoon were to depict Jesus or the Pope as a pedophile, it would be a commentary on the entire religion, not just a few individuals. Even if that's not what the cartoonist intended, that's what the majority of readers are going to take away from it.

Now I'm sure you're going to ignore that as well and simply come back with even more stupidity and pointless attacks to avoid admitting that the cartoonists could have possibly done something wrong. Because, as we all know, Danish cartoonists are living gods, above such mistakes. So I'm just going to start ignoring you now.

But by all means, feel free to keep talking.
posted by magodesky at 3:51 PM on April 14, 2006


it was a series, and i believe dogs (considered unclean) and bare feet were involved too

Not so. You can see them all at the Wikipedia entry

they were carefully crafted to be extraordinarily offensive towards Muslims and the Arab world in general.

Not really. In fact, many of them mocked the paper's editors.

that's what the majority of readers are going to take away from it.

You know, if you really believe that what the majority of people took away from that cartoon is that it called every single Arab Muslim in the world a terrorist, I can't help you. Getting out more is the only cure for that. It's really amazing to see someone working so hard to get offended.
posted by boaz at 4:17 PM on April 14, 2006


This conversation has depressed me deeply on a number of levels, not least of which is my seeming inability to communicate with magodesky using the the English language, and rational thought. But before I begin drinking to forget, I'd like to make perfectly clear my use of the word "evolve" for him, so that at the very least, some of use learn something.

You realize that neither of those definitions make any more sense in the context you used, right?

No, you fail to realize what I was saying. I said "People evolve, and old idea's and customs are tossed away to make room for new ones." The understanding of the world around us has changed since the any of these biblical texts were created, and this is truly a good thing. We no long believe lightning is caused by an vengeful god, but rather we know that it is caused by the polarization of static electricity in clouds. You see, we have gradually achieved an common understanding of the world around us - lightning too!

This idea works for culture, as well. Culturally, we evolved away from slavery here in the West. Some cultures have yet to make that collective leap, and thus are stuck on a lower plain of social evolution. They too will one day make the leap; it's an eventual reality.

It even works for religious belief. The West has collectively worked out, over time, social standards of behavior and cultural norms. For example, we rarely stone witches anymore. I can't remember the last time I sacrificed a virgin. You see the reason these old ideas and customs have fallen by the wayside is because they're no longer relevant. They're history.

We've evolved.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:25 PM on April 14, 2006


There are many areas of offense/respect that are arbitrary; laws are not one of them. Both vandalising graves and threatening people and burning property are illegal for a reason and that reason is not "man speaking on behalf of god said so".
posted by funambulist at 5:00 PM on April 14, 2006


magodesky, the fundamental difference of worldviews here is that to you (and people who made similar arguments) the important thing is to establish how crappy, how nasty, how offensive and stereotyping of Muslims the cartoons were and why it was inherently wrong to publish them, while to others, the focus is inevitably the huge reaction and its political significance, because of its hugeness.

Yeah, of course, both aspects can be taken into consideration at the same time, but there's a difference between that and ending up treating everything as if it was on the same level, which is what many did in effect during the debate of the past months. Bad cartoonists, bad rioters, bad fatwa! you all say sorry now and promise not to do it again, kids! That's what a lot of the "of course/but" amounted to. All round condemnation, everyone is guilty, amen. This is not the way justice works. It's morally wrong to effectively void the difference in responsibilities there.

Because of the ridiculously fucking huge disproportion between cause and effect, offense and reaction, Mohammed with bomb in turban and violence burnings threats political hell breaking loose, when there is that kind of reaction we saw, it reaches the point where we shouldn't even give a shit what the opinions and intentions of the author of the offensive material were. They become irrelevant. Even if the 'offense' had been something that qualifies for your blackface-pissingongrave-pisschrist analogies, it still would pale in comparison with the reaction. Not as a quality matter of "less offensive/better/more intelligent than" but because of the political and social consequences of those reactions.

Not least in terms of the increase of power for fundamentalists and the further intimidation of reasonable people, moderates, ordinary people with real concerns.

That the publication had such terrible consequences is the result of that disproportionate reaction, not of the publication itself. It was not racist propaganda (and if they'd been so inherently offensive, why did the imams who stirred up the reaction in the ME need to make up three fake and truly offensive cartoons and pass them off as made in Denmark? hmm?). But no amount of offensivenes, perceived or real, should warrant anywhere near that kind of reaction.

This has all been said over and over boring boring but I can't get my head round the fact that some people still don't see the forest for the tree.
posted by funambulist at 5:11 PM on April 14, 2006


Metafilter: we rarely stone witches anymore.

Actually, we do, but it only happens metaphorically. It's what the tabloids are for.
posted by funambulist at 5:20 PM on April 14, 2006


Even if the 'offense' had been something that qualifies for your blackface-pissingongrave-pisschrist analogies...

Even if the first two analogies were apt, the third one sure isn't. Not only can we handle a little crucifix-in-piss action with out tearing up the streets, our government pays for it with with your tax money. Isn't it grand?
posted by SweetJesus at 5:22 PM on April 14, 2006


Even if the first two analogies were apt, the third one sure isn't.

You're right. But then, none of the analogies were apt!

You have to admit it's funny having a SweetJesus defending the Piss Christ on Good Friday.
posted by funambulist at 5:48 PM on April 14, 2006


SweetJesus - Your defense of the use of the term "evolve" seems to betray quite a bit about your actual argument. Your usage is based largely on a common misunderstanding of what it means to evolve. Many people mistakenly think that evolution is the same as progress. This is not true. And the sort of social Darwinism inherent in your last post is merely an excuse for the thinly veiled ethnocentrism present in so many of your comments through this thread. The West is not "more evolved" than the East. No society is "more evolved" than any other society. The phrase "more evolved" itself is nonsensical because evolution is not a progression with a linear end point.

funambulist - I'm not comparing what the cartoonists did to what the protesters did. Others here are, because the only way to make what the cartoonists did seem acceptable is to compare them to what the protesters did. But there are two issues here - (1) whether what the newspaper printed was appropriate, and (2) whether the reaction of Muslim protesters was appropriate. The answer to (1) is not dependent on (2), and vice versa. Therefore, they should be taken as separate cases. My "focus" has been on the actions of the cartoonists because that's what the thread is about. If this were a thread about the Muslim response, then that would be my focus. But it doesn't make sense to compare the two because they are not logically related to one another. So to say that the Muslim reaction makes the cartoonists' actions irrelevant is illogical and unfair because they have nothing to do with each other. All of the parties involved should be judged solely on the merits of their own behavior.
posted by magodesky at 6:18 PM on April 14, 2006


SweetJesus - Your defense of the use of the term "evolve" seems to betray quite a bit about your actual argument. Your usage is based largely on a common misunderstanding of what it means to evolve
You're either obtuse, you don't understand the term.
posted by SweetJesus at 6:38 PM on April 14, 2006


Rather - You're either obtuse, or you don't understand the term.
posted by SweetJesus at 6:39 PM on April 14, 2006


Man, and here I thought I could come back and see a discussion of fucking south park post- the actual broadcasts. No such luck.
posted by nanojath at 10:52 PM on April 14, 2006


Man, and here I thought I could come back and see a discussion of fucking south park post- the actual broadcasts.

I got tricked into watching South Park over that Scientology episode, and I wasn't about to get fooled again. Sorry. However, I thought it was funny that Comedy Central censored Mohammed over 'concerns for public safety'. [Homer]It's funny because it's true.[/Homer]
posted by boaz at 5:04 AM on April 15, 2006


Therefore, they should be taken as separate cases.

Except in reality they weren't. No one heard and would have ever heard of the cartoons in some Danish paper if it wasn't for those reactions. No one, including those who rioted, had ever even actually seen the cartoons when the shitstorm started. Let's not forget they were only republished online and in a few European and Arab papers (and people lost their jobs for that). The shit stirring imams made claims about three extra fake cartoons with Mohammed fucking a dog and pictured as a pig (that's where the dog and pig thing was, amberglow, not in the original cartoons), and also about a Danish law to ban the Koran in Denmark for being homophobic. That's what got the ball rolling.

Many people both in the ME and in Europe saw the mayhem and thought, gee, people are getting so pissed off, that stuff must have been really offensive.

Then you go and see the cartoons and the only thing that everyone thought was nasty was the bomb in turban one. Is it about terrorists using Islam as justification, putting a bomb in the prophet's head and he doesn't even notice; is it about Islam being violent from the start; is it about all Muslims being terrorists; is it something else, is it all of those things? There were Muslims who were not that bothered. Just like there are people who are not outraged into a frenzy over South Park targeting their religion/ethnic group/nationality/favourite celebrity, or about the Jerry Springer opera, or the Piss Christ. You don't have to like any of those things to defend their legitimacy and see the distinction with racist propaganda.

Appropriateness about things like that is about manners and taste, and those are subjective. There's always people who get outraged over what others consider perfectly fine and appropriate. Both have a right to their views and objections, no one has a right to blackmail others into censorship. It's as simple as that.

And talking about reinforcing stereotypes, the reactions did much more damage in that respect than any of those silly cartoons. The most effective way to paint your religion as run by crazy violent fanatics is to get in a burning frenzy about something that no one would have even paid any attention to otherwise.

In the Rushdie case, there were those who focused so much on whether it was right of him to go stirring that hornet nest, whether he was just looking for publicity with unnecessary provocation, they lost sight of the enormous issue raised by the case, effectively legitimising if not the fatwa at least the sentiments behind it. When there is an accused party and accusers, and the bone of contention is the right to expression of material that can stir hornet nests, especially of religions claiming all sorts of special exemptions, an ethical sense of justice requires a judgement on that, not handwaving about 'that you have the right doesn't mean you should do it', as if it was about the etiquette of attending a formal dinner.
posted by funambulist at 5:43 AM on April 15, 2006


However, I thought it was funny that Comedy Central censored Mohammed over 'concerns for public safety'.

It is, but at least they're honest. The sad thing is not so much publishers having to cave in to pressures to protect their employees, it's people who bend over backwards to justify that with talk of sensibilities.
posted by funambulist at 5:47 AM on April 15, 2006


Maybe as a compromise, cartoons could depict Muhammed, but only if they pretend that he converted to Christianity.
posted by boaz at 5:52 AM on April 15, 2006


Except in reality they weren't.

I'm sorry, but if your grasp of basic logical reasoning is so loose that you're incapable of distinguishing between separate issues simply because they involve events that are related chronologically, there's not much I can do for you.
posted by magodesky at 6:04 AM on April 15, 2006


It is, but at least they're honest.

Yeah, it's kinda weird that there's this huge back-and-forth over the Danish cartoons when the subject of the post, Comedy Central and Fox censoring their respective cartoons, obviously occurred because of the ensuing riots. I suppose that's as much my fault as anyone's though, so, uh, sorry about that.
posted by boaz at 6:54 AM on April 15, 2006


Heh, sure, now the cartoons and protests are only "related chronologically"! Brilliant!

It's just a shame this revelation could not be shared with the world before, it could have saved lives.

But alas, it is impossible for the uninitiated plebs to reach the level of logical purity that allows you to ignore the actual development and details of real events, of worldwide political significance, and reconstrue them as separate formulas in your little disconnected abstract world. You're either graced with this magic ability or you're not. Lucky you!

--------
Maybe as a compromise, cartoons could depict Muhammed, but only if they pretend that he converted to Christianity.

That sounds like a great idea for starting a war, boaz. Much better than phantom WMD!
posted by funambulist at 7:11 AM on April 15, 2006


Your snide remarks notwithstanding, funambulist, the fact that the protests were a reaction to the cartoons does not make the appropriateness of either logically related. It makes them chronologically related. As an example (I'm not sure why I'm doing this because we've already established that all analogies are lost on you, but here I go anyway), the Patriot Act was a reaction to 9/11. Does the fact that 9/11 was bad justify the Patriot Act? Does the Patriot Act being bad justify 9/11? No. Because they're not logically related. So you have to consider each event separately, based on its own merits.

I never thought I would actually have to explain something so basic, but there it is.
posted by magodesky at 7:36 AM on April 15, 2006


And before you say it, yes, I am aware that 9/11 is not identical to the Jyllands-Posten protests. They, like, happened in different places and everything. But analogies are about relevant details, and while I know that's something you have trouble with, please try to stick to those.
posted by magodesky at 7:46 AM on April 15, 2006


Yeah, it's kinda weird that there's this huge back-and-forth over the Danish cartoons when the subject of the post, Comedy Central and Fox censoring their respective cartoons, obviously occurred because of the ensuing riots.

This is reality, magodesky. You're welcome to it anytime you like.
posted by funambulist at 8:38 AM on April 15, 2006


Yeah, it's kinda weird that there's this huge back-and-forth over the Danish cartoons when the subject of the post, Comedy Central and Fox censoring their respective cartoons, obviously occurred because of the ensuing riots.

This is reality, magodesky. You're welcome to it anytime you like.


The South Park episodes had very little to do with the rioting. They were mentioned, but the vast majority of both episodes had to do with censorship and freedom of speech. So bringing up the riots is a red herring at best.
posted by magodesky at 12:00 PM on April 15, 2006



posted by boaz at 2:54 PM on April 15, 2006


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