19 August, 2006

New Lights-2

New Lights 2 is a little different from New Lights-1... in the sense that the issue I wish to speak about is a little more important and murkier. I don't even know where I stand on some points. Still, I'll try and think about the issue in a way opposite to which I normally do.

Whatever lights we have, the need
Is for more of the same breed
We want new insights,
And far fewer fights
Enlightenment of our thought and deed.

About New Lights-1 (and I've renamed it that)
I wish to make some clarifications: I was just giving the example of intelligence. I could just as well have considered cheerful girls, or something. I have to make some unnrealistic categorisations... but the main point is in the two partners "clicking". I just wanted to say that shallowness in looks isn't the only shallow thing men show.
About the astrology post: Do look at the links. They clarify a lot of things. Also, read my psuedoscience post here. :-)

Too Much Freedom?

This post is about the Danish Cartoons Controversy. I support the complete freedom of speech, but I think the other side has a point too. A VERY informative page with excellent links and references is the wikipedia article about it.

Crazy Dane, Crazy Dane,
What are you doing?
I have no restrain
So I am cartooning.

Protesting Muslim, Dear boy
What thoughts are churning?
Not thoughts, only riots
And flags are burning.

A Danish newspaper published satirical 12 cartoons in 2005 about Islam and terrorism. A huge worldwide protest ensued, with people speaking of a "clash of civilisations". But the real question is whether we should value the freedom of speech more than the effect of it upon people who are hurt by satire.

The cartoons made fun of Islam... and they generalised. All muslims aren't terrorists. And Muhammed certainly did not preach terror. Anyway, the main point I want to make is not about Islam.

Do we have the right to publish anything we want, even though we know it may hurt a community? Can't a government interfere in such matters to curtail the freedom of speech?

Those who have read, learnt and understood western ideologies (like me, when not looking for new lights ;-) ) hold that freedom of speech is the about as high and holy one can get in human rights. But what when a race, community, or religion is affected and hurt by this very right? Clearly, we need to demarcate the what is valid and what is blasphemy when this happens.

But there are doubts that some communities may grow ultra-sensitive and any protest will easily curtail our fundamental right. That is a valid argument. But insensitivity to a community's sentiments will only make matters worse. Ultimately, we must let society decide. The cartoons caused a rise in the anti-West sentiments inthe Middle-East. This leads to a divide between two "civilisations", and helps extremists.

Instead of Satire, we must use our rights to ensure that the "East" and "West" come together, and trust each other. I'm talking to both Muslims and Westerners. Speak up, make your voice of freedom, trust and peace be heard. Let us not distrust each other.

P.S. The Middle wasn't all that nice in it's protests either. 130 people died, flags were burnts, and there were calls for assasinations of the cartoonists. Peace is right, violence, murder, disrespect to any national flag, is wrong.

The post ended with an unrealistic-seeming Utopia-like statement. I hope it is not too unrealistic, and the East and West trust each other in the near future.


  1. I think publishing the cartoons was unnecessary. Freedom of speech should not override other rights. Though protests are natural, palcing a bounty on the cartoonists' heads is not exactly what religion tells us to follow.
    When there is an urgent need for reconciliation, the world seems to get divided further. It is a shame that religion has been made a zero sum game...

  2. Cartoons are meant to exaggerate and generalise, that is what a cartoon does. The middle east does this too, they make plenty of cartoons about "the west", jews, etc etc, including Jesus btw. I think it is completely stupid to take offence at something that is not meant as an offence and is also clearly done by people lacking insight in what you hold holy. Frankly, I do hold freedom of speech holy, even if I do often not agree with what is being said.
    What happened with the cartoons is that some disgruntled Mullah took a portfolio containing a miraculous 42 pages to Egypt to lobby for some sort of outrage. Pretty nifty huh, to get 42 pages of 12 cartoons? The cartoons btw did NOT all depict muslims as terrorists, that was not the point at all, if people would have taken the interest to research what it was all about. The portfolio included pictures of a French Pig slaughtering fest, with people dressed up as pigs, with the caption saying this was how they depict Mohammed. Obviously, it had nothing to do with that at all.
    When it comes to closing the gap between "the east" (or the middle east in particularly here) and "the west", it is not something that should come from one side, ie. "the west". I think the biggest crime that happened with these cartoons is the guy that went out and lobbied about them with false information. I read an interview with the bloke after about 4 people had died, so far, and he had no remorse whatsoever.
    Figure THAT.
    I think there are a lot of things that deserve more attention than the freedom to produce satire when it comes to world peace.

    And just for the record, I may be from "the west" but it is a big mistake to think that "the west" is as homogenous as the Ummah, because that is poppycock. There is no unified West, and therefor, the "West" is not an entity that can do anything.

    It's PEOPLE that do things. And I still think drawing a cartoon of the Prophet (and there were one or two that were quite funny and rather sweet) is a lot better than killing and maiming people and destroying property. And it is PEOPLE that I hold responsible, individually, for the dreadful loss of lives (over 30, not 130 I thought) and property (millions, and almost none of it belonging to any of the "perpetrators", the cartoonists", but a lot belonging to people that had nothing to do with it whatsoever). And consider the loss of income, the maimings (deaths are counted, but what about people being handicapped and incapacitated for life? what about their income and quality of life?) was it all worth it?

    By the way, I think it is perfectly alright to burn a flag in protest. As long as you paid for it yourself and didn't put fire to anyone else with it. It is a perfectly ok way to express your disgruntlement in my opinion. I wish they'd just stuck to burning flags for Pete's sake.

    I am glad I live in a country where I have the right to produce satire AND burn a flag, if I would wish to. And as a result, funnily enough, I feel no such inclination whatsoever. I AM free, and I will fight for that freedom if necessary, especially against zealots that proclaim their freedom (religious) more important than mine (to express myself)

  3. hahah wow I got a chill from your first stanza...seriously

  4. Saskia, I agree with you.But, as I've said, I did not want to comment on the Cartoons event in particular, but I wanted to ask the question: Is there a thing such as too much Freedom of Speech?

    Just like you cannot murder or hurt someone, or break rules, even though you are free to act in whichever way you like, shouldn't there be some restrictions of speech so that the sentiments of communities aren't hurt? Atleast there should be some legal measures the offended party can take.

    I did not wish to deal with the specific issue at hand so closely, because it has many complications which lead us away (and did distract me, in fact) from the principal question. But thank you for the comment. I hope people read it. :-)

  5. Hmm... I suppose sometimes people don't see the very fine line between exercising their right to freedom of speech and just being a tactless idiot. I mean just because people are being all mean common sense should tell you that people won't be all that receptive to certain forms of retaliation. But common sense is 'common' not universal. And at times like these it's easier to just accept that people are tactless idiots that do go too far and if you make a scene you're just as childish as they are.

  6. Well Anonick, for me, freedom of speech is sacred, and of course there is a matter of taste involved. It is extremely tasteless to carry a 42 pages portfolio of "offenses" of 12 cartoons. That guy was lying and the lies lead to the deaths and the destroying of property. Sure, that mullah had freedom of speech, but there is something quite morally despicable about lying, and that is where the "taste" thingy comes in, surely.

    So, let's not sqabble about what is more sacred than other things, because when you get in a freedom of speech debate, that is going to happen. I hold my religion dear, but people are free to ridicule God or Jesus if they want: I do not expect everyone to hold the same things sacred as I do. And you are are free to ridicule my freedom of speech... as long as you do not hamper it.

    To some people, it is offensive when women walk around with their hair or nekkid bits of skin showing.

    Well, tough luck. I find it offensive when people regard me as a whore just because I walk around with uncovered hair and bits of skin showing.

    Learn to live with it. I am not attacking anyone, I just want to go through life unmolested. I might draw some cartoons about it. So shoot me.