Tuesday, May 5, 2015

OK News Folks, I'm Done.

Over the weekend, a shooting took place at a “draw Mohammed” contest, resulting in the deaths of the two alleged shooters and the injury of an off-duty policeman.

Had this happened in, say, Copenhagen or Paris, where similar attacks have occurred – notably the attack on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, where 11 died and 11 were injured in an attack January 7 of this year, we’d be hearing a lot more about it. And certainly the spin would have been a lot different.

But this attack happened in Texas. At an event sponsored by a group that’s been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “anti-Muslim.” So, you know, the news reports have been a lot less “we stand with those who died expressing freedom” and more “HOW DARE THEY SPREAD HATRED AGAINST MUSLIMS?”

Help me out here. Charlie Hebdo has for years tweaked Muslims by depicting their prophet in, let’s say, less than flattering ways. But Hebdo and a Danish newspaper that printed anti-Muslim cartoons have been celebrated – wrongly, according to the Christian Science Monitor – as defenders off free speech, rather than as participants in a wider anti-Muslim smear hiding behind the guise of free speech.

And while it is true that the organizers of this Texas event are well-known Muslim-haters and Muslim-baiters, I’m still not sure I see the distinction between lionizing a group that picks on everybody (including poor and already marginalized Muslims in Europe, Charlie Hebdo) while demonizing a group that focuses on anti-Islam (or whatever else you want to dredge up about them). Is one better because their hatred is more spread out, rather than concentrated? Apparently so.

When you have things like this being said, well, you know it’s fuzzy to me how this can be defined as free speech rather than hate speech:

Editor Stephane Charbonnier, among the 10 journalists killed Wednesday, also defended the Muhammad cartoons speaking to The AP in 2012.

"Muhammad isn't sacred to me," said Charbonnier, who used the pen name Charb. "I don't blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don't live under Quranic law."

The kind of law I like to live under is “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Does it matter that Mohammad “isn’t sacred” to those who tweak his followers? It should. Garry Trudeau, who has stirred a lot of pots in his time with his comic strip Doonesbury seems to think so. Trudeau said a few weeks ago Charlie Hebdo “wandered into hate speech,” and for what it’s worth I think he’s right.

One of my favorite parables from the Bible is that of the woman caught in adultery who is brought before Jesus to be judged – not because the accusers care much for her guilt or innocence, but because they want to find some way to accuse Jesus of violating the Law of Moses. Rather than pronounce guilt or innocence, Jesus asks the woman’s accusers to cast the first stone, if they be without sin. Consciences pricked, they all wander off, leaving the woman unpunished.

Today, I’m afraid the response would have been more like this:

No comments: