Sep 8, 2010

Hooray for being offensive toward another religion! Oh, wait, we're totally against it!

Anybody else find German Chancellor Merkel's comments today at an award ceremony for Kurt Westergaard (article here) a little odd?

In honoring the Danish cartoonist who a few years back created waves with his depictions of the prophet Muhammad with a bomb for a turban, she says, "We are talking here about the freedom of opinion and the freedom of the press." Then, at THE SAME AWARD CEREMONY, she calls US pastor Terry Jones to burn copies of the Koran on Saturday "abhorrent", "disrespectful" and "simply wrong".

I'm no expert on what is and isn't offensive to Muslims (and unfortunately don't have any Muslim acquaintances to ask about it), so perhaps burning the Koran is much worse than drawing Muhammad. But I do know that both depicting Muhammad (with or without bomb turbans) and burning the Koran are considered blasphemy in Islam, so why is one good and the other bad? Considering that Kurt Westergaard sparked protests and death threats, I assume that what he did was fairly "abhorrent" and "disrespectful", at least to the Muslim community.

And I wonder if (even in secular Europe), it all comes down to Christian thinking. Bible burning is offensive, right? But what is the Christian equivalent of the Muhammad cartoon? Is it perhaps just a cultural divide keeping the Western world from seeing the offense in a Muhammad cartoon?

Or, other thought: Is it the fact that Mr. Westergaard is part of the press (so why wouldn't journalists love him?) and Mr. Jones is a religious figure (who journalists tend to not like much for several reasons I won't go into here), that makes one a beacon of freedom and another a destroyer of good? Thank you, media, for controlling all opinions.

For the record, I support both Kurt Westergaard's and Terry Jones' right to do what they like. Though I'm disappointed to see the support that both have received in what I consider [insert word that is like racist but for religion there really not one?] activities. Also, perhaps this is just the cynic in me, but I kind of suspect that both may have some ulterior motives; what better way to make a name for yourself than to do something very publicly offensive?


Trev said...

In my opinion, it is very much the same as the difference between punching someone and spitting on them. Both are offensive, both are wrong but one has an entirely different effect and underlying meaning than the other.

In history, book burning has always been symbolic of the complete, utter rejection of and disgust for a set of ideals and/or opinions (the spitting upon, if you will). In my opinion, this is the ultimate purpose of the Florida sect. Whereas doing something that is against someone else's religion is, I would say, slightly less insulting and more of a "stick your tongue out" sort of thing to do.

Just my two-cents.

August said...

I feel both actions are equally protected (were they both to occur in the US, that is). However, I don't really think either should be out of respect for the religion. I'm always a fan of "just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should."