mayhem and hypocrisy in the name of faith

April 23, 2010

Over the years, South Park rarely pulled its punches and eagerly dove deep into just about every controversial and politically charged issue in the United States and sometimes, international events. But while Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been inundated with hate mail and ridicule over the years, this is the first time they were threatened with a violent death at the hand of religious fanatics, and the question in my mind is which one of the pillars of Islam includes death threats to those who don’t share your worldview? Between monotheism, daily prayer, charity, ritual fasting, and making the Hajj, I can’t find anything about murder and mayhem for the sake of satisfying one’s intolerance. And there’s another twist to this story, highlighted by the linked report…

That’s right. Revolution Muslim is based in New York and enjoys all the laws, freedoms and protections to say whatever they want to say on their blogs and sites. While they expect nothing short of reverence for their ideas, the very Western society they despise ignores the cries of those who want to censor them, protects their right to condemn anyone who dares to look in their direction with even the slightest criticism, or threaten them with a gruesome death. By contrast, for all the ridicule and threats about Hell, fire and brimstone I’ve received from zealous Christians who find my defenses of cosmology and evolution to be an assault on their religion, not a single one has ever implied that he or she was going to stab me to death because of something I wrote. Now of course, our would be defenders of Mohammad’s honor say they don’t do that either…

… Abu Talhah al Amrikee, the author of the post, told CNN it was meant to show those offended by the depiction of Mohammed how they can voice their opposition, including by sending letters to the South Park’s creators.

Yeah. Sure. A group which sees nothing wrong with the September 11 attacks and thinks they have to terrorize those around them to fend off hypothetical assaults on their property, sisters and mothers, compiles a raging sermon warning the creators of a TV show not to end up like a documentarian stabbed in the throat for a film showing the plight of women under Islamic fundamentalists, and all they really want is to organize an orderly, calm protest and a polite letter writing campaign encouraging cultural sensitivity. Of course, how could we not draw the same conclusion after reading a long litany of threats fetishizing violence in the name of religion and giving addresses and contact information of people at who the post was directed? It’s all so clear now! This is pretty much the same excuse as violent anti-abortion groups and radical animal rights activists summon in their defense. After demonizing their targets, foaming at the mouth with gruesome threats, and giving contact information for other enraged zealots to do the dirty work, they claim they’ve done nothing wrong and whatever the consequences of their actions happen to be, they’re never responsible for anything.

And that is patently ridiculous. There’s a reason why I never threaten those who I criticize on a daily basis with even so much as a polite e-mail or hand out any personal contact information, and why comments linking to a site inciting violence, ethic, or religious hatred, or containing hateful remarks get deleted. My disagreements, no matter how bitter or heated, are with people and the actions they take, and no matter how much I disagree, there is absolutely no reason to harass or threaten anyone with violence or murder. Muslims offended at how an irreverent TV show takes on the issue of violence, mayhem and death threats by religious extremists at the drop of a hat should complain and Western society legally ensures their right to do it. But writing screeds glorifying murder in the name of Allah for the crime or having a different worldview, then claiming that you were just putting together a few strongly worded but polite letters and a few protest signs, crosses the line between civilized discourse and lunges towards terrorism. Freedom of speech is given to all in the West, not just a few groups who want to use it as a platform for dictating their will and hurl death threats at others.

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  • RaggMopp

    I’m pretty sure that civil libertarian sentiments like: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it,” are not genetic. But at what age do you suppose you must implant the seeds of such a worldview into a young mind? My gut feeling is that it starts before Kindergarten. A child must have had the experience of a verbal dispute that was not settled by force of authority, but by force of argument, or force of empathy, or force of character. The child must see at a very formative age that people like Mom and Aunt Mary, and even Big Sis have a right to an opinion, and are not shouted down by Dad or Uncle Bob, or even Big Brother, or alternatively that you can’t stop all further discussion by quoting chapter and verse, everybody has his own chapter and verse. What does that mean for the USA? Religionists of all stripes come here, and have children, and are appalled to find that their children like Rap, short-shorts and halter tops and Thomas Jefferson. My only advise to them is: If you expect to maintain your deflicted culture in this milkshake, you are dreaming. Nothing can withstand exposure to America, as long as we don’t sour the beverage with military imperialism.