Infamous Danish cartoons: free expression vs. being an asshole

February 20, 2008

Its been a pretty big news month. The democratic nomination race in the US, Fidel Castro has officially resigning as the president of Cuba, the mundane details of war, natural disasters, and famine, not to mention today – a solid chunk of Toronto being on fire. Perhaps then it’s out of a sort of middle-child-like attention starvation that Danish Newspapers reprinted the infamous cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohamed sporting a bomb shaped turban.

Predictably, not only has this derailed the past two years of work the Danish Government has invested in trying to get Danish cheeses unboycotted around the world, but has put good old Denmarkia back on the newsertainment map.

Shortly after the reprinting, coincidently about when Pakistan’s ‘little election’ has been eating up valuable front page space, the Danish authorities foiled a plot to kill the comic’s original creator.

So now, somewhat painfully, we are back at the beginning. Danish newspapers crying that they have a right to freedom of expression, and waving wildly and pointing at Muslims as crazy extremists hell bent on stopping them.

While personally I do not support the decapitation of individuals for the production of any illustration, no matter how offensive, I would not go as far as to say that I wouldn’t condone the act under any circumstances. Indeed just today I met a person on the subway who I, at least momentarily, considered beheading.

However, my point is that, not being particularly religious, its not really fair to compare my response to such a cartoon to those who believe such depictions require violent retribution (and here let me be clear that I fully understand that a huge majority of the Muslim communities around the world do not condone such violent reprisals).

But lets think this through fairly.

What, for example, would likely be the result of printing an inflammatory cartoon of this nature about other religions? What, for the sake of argument, would the average devout catholic Italian have to say about an image of the Virgin mother masterbating while her son, Jesus Christ, sodomized a prepubescent alter boy? How would that one go over in the Vatican?

How about a cartoon depicting Old Testament God, mowing down on a bacon sandwich, sitting on a thrown of broken Palestian children, while giving Moses the ten commandments? Anybody be angry then? Think that would be a good T-shirt to wear to Synagogue?

The image that the infamous Danish cartoon depicts is offensive, period. Its offensive not only because it goes against a tenant of Islam, but because its meant to be offensive.

People who jump up and down suggesting that printing this cartoon is a matter of free speech, are right. But free speech doesn’t mean free from consequences.

Sure you can run through Russian Martial Arts festival wearing a Stalin T-shirt and spitting ethnic slurs, sure you can dress yourself in a British Army Uniform and piss on an Irish Flag in a pub on St. Patrick’s day. But you’re still an asshole for doing it, and you sure as shit shouldn’t be surprised if you get the crap kicked out of you, much less have trouble selling your national cheese abroad.

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40 Responses to “Infamous Danish cartoons: free expression vs. being an asshole”

  1. Pollyanna Sassmaster Says:

    Excellent.

  2. thekenji Says:

    I see your plan, Valliant. That was an ingenious means to legitimately post a description of the virgin-mom-pedo-jesus image! That’s the last I will ever have of your cheese goddammit!

  3. w0rmwood Says:

    Ahem!

    This would be a wormwood post, not a valliant post.

    I would have thought the virgin-mom-pedo-jesus image was a dead give away.

    >=)

  4. Lulu Malone Says:

    Wow, I may be the unpopular one here, but I totally disagree with you on several points, and will put myself out there by saying so.

    Since when does an insult justify any violence, let alone a beheading? I can say “fuck you”, and you can figure I’m an asshole, and then ignore me, and my power to effect you will be disabled.

    Why is the world being so fucking tolerant of the Muslims who commit murder and violence because some one dared to insult them. It is one temper tantrum on steroids, and what they are really doing is using mass intimidation in order to control what people can do or say. This is the same tactic they use against women in their culture to keep them bound and suppressed.

    I have been insulted for my spirituality many, many times, but I do not go out and decapitate people, despite my being a “souless Heathen.” There is no other religion today that would have a violent uprising as a reaction to a slanderous cartoon besides fundamentalist Muslims. I’m sorry (actually, I’m really not), but people who bow to their tactics are cowards. They don’t have to draw their prophet, and they can follow all the dogma they want, but they cannot force me, or anyone to be Muslim and follow the tenets of their religion. That is not their right.

    Now, if you want to get into justification for beheading, forcing someone to be a religion that is not of their choosing, that might be a valid crime.

    If I want to draw a cartoon of the pope sodomizing a rabbi while sucking Mohammed’s dick, than I can. While there may be no value in it, or real reason for it, I can still do it, because it is just a freakin’ picture, and I am not forcing anyone else to look at it.

    People don’t get beheaded for stoning women to death (Muslims), or beating women to death for showing their ankles (Muslims), or letting little girls burn to death because they aren’t properly dressed (Muslims). I don’t want to hear it. Wah.

    The consequence of freedom of speech is that it is less likely that oppressive regimes will gain control, and dominate and abuse its citizens. You don’t have to buy a newspaper, watch a TV channel, or look at a website. You are free to choose what information you access.

    Now, sure, if I, a woman, walk into the middle of Mecca topless screaming at the top of my lungs “fuck Mohammed”, than the consequence will most likely be that I will be (a)killed immediately or (b)killed by slow torture. I would be stupid, and would have to accept the consequences of my actions. Time and place.

    Maybe we ought to think about the fact that I would be killed for doing such a thing and rethink the Muslim traditions, rather than protect their sensibilities.

    Anyone can say to me fuck your gods, fuck Thelema, fuck you, and fuck America, and I will probably laugh at them. Actually, they do. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me personally, or my spirituality. I only have myself to prove anything to, in the end.

    Wow, suddenly I am craving a nice hunk of cheese.

  5. Lulu Malone Says:

    Unless I didn’t get that you were being sarcastic, and then I would say, right on!

  6. w0rmwood Says:

    Nope, no sarcasm here, well at least not in the way you meant.

    My point was not that beheading a person for drawing a picture is ok. I personally would not do that. It is also incredibly important to note, that most Muslims also have openly condemned such violence.

    My point is that the cartoon is inflammatory. It is meant to inspire anger, rage even. Then, when the rage occurs, both nonviolent (boycotts of products, protests, even flag burnings) and violent (suggestions of violence, and acts of violence – though these are the minority), some jump up and down and say that this illustrates that Islam is a violent religion.

    So, I am not saying that I condone such violence. I am saying that if you drew a cartoon of Jesus raping children and published it in Italy or the Vatican… or any number of other places … you would see outrage as well.

    I, like yourself, do not hold strong beliefs about organized religion. So I cant truly empathize with people who get up in arms over such things.

    Then again, if a white supremacist was standing on the street corner spouting hateful things about this or that ethnicity – I would get angry.

    Freedom of expression doesn’t mean freedom from the responsibility for what you say.

  7. Lulu Malone Says:

    I feel that personal responsibility is one of the most important traits all people should have (not well said, but basically that everyone should take responsibility for everything they do, say, etc, and should therefore be held accountable.) Unless a person cannot be responsible, ie. they are an infant, or profoundly retarded, etc.; then, their caretakers are responsible.

    I have been made extremely angry by the actions of certain people, but have never chosen to react violently because of my anger. If we, as humans, are to be evolved beyond our basic animal nature, than we are responsible to control our emotional impulses and the behaviors they trigger. Otherwise, we are just animals. Not that there is anything wrong with animals–I love them. Interestingly enough, there are few animals in any other species that will go into violent rages that result in mass death, unless they have been severely abused. Most animals avoid violence, unless they are protecting themselves, or hunting to survive.

    Interesting secular example. Recently, this past year, the local KKK has spread white supremacist fliers and threatened to hold a March down our main street in our small city–a very liberal college town. Now I hate this sort of prejudice as well, and white supremacists are some of the worst. I would be very angry if they did this, but I still am glad that in my country they are free to do so, because therefore, so am I (march for what I believe in.)

    Most people look at them as the stupid, ignorant fools they are. I get just as angry at the anti-abortion people who picket outside Planned Parenthood, but I don’t shoot them as I drive by.

    And, so what? So what if I am angry, or you are angry, or they are angry? Doesn’t anger motivate people to make change? Doesn’t anger serve a purpose–to show us what is wrong with society, or government, or religion? Violent reaction to anger is what leads to war, and while some war is just, most is not.

    Sometimes rage can be used to illustrate what is inhuman, or wrong with the world. I try to inspire rage sometimes when I write, because I want to change things. I want to change the sexism of the world, and the way women are treated, for example. By illustrating the horrific ways some women are still being treated, I want people to feel rage, so that they are motivated to stop it.

    Perhaps the Danish people were trying to inspire others to change what is the most flawed part of the Muslim religion, and that is the extreme violence so prevalent in their societies. If you don’t think Islam is violent, you have not studied the way Muslims treat their women. Are there moderate Muslims who treat their women well? Sure, but the Koran itself is not kind to women, so they are not following their holy book when that is the case.

  8. Lulu Malone Says:

    You know, Havarti is really good melted on a turkey sandwich.

  9. w0rmwood Says:

    Hmm, well you raise a few points.

    1) If the Danish cartoonist who drew the image of the prophet with a bomb as a turban was trying to “inspire others to change what is the most flawed part of the Muslim religion” then he/she was a fucking idiot, and failed completely at his/her goal.

    2) In terms of the widespread belief that Islam is violent towards women, its a complicated issue. Are there very anti-women activities and traditions in some Muslim countries? Yes. However, are these all inherent to Islam? More difficult to say. You argue they are. Many argue that they are cultural practices (what we would call institutionalized patriarchy and misogony) which have been written into Islam.

    3) “Are there moderate Muslims who treat their women well? Sure, but the Koran itself is not kind to women, so they are not following their holy book when that is the case.” This may be true, but then its true of all of the religions of the book. Christianity, Judaism, Islam – if taken literally call for all sorts of cruelties and violences (especially against women) which we no longer hold to be valid. I have always felt it was unfair to suggest that moderates aren’t following what their holy books say, you could just as easily say that radicals (or literalists) are missing what the holy books mean to say.

    Personally I don’t buy the arguments that the problems are these ‘violent’ or ‘radical’ religions. Problems are more complex than that. Attack someone’s core beliefs, and they will get upset. They may do something unjustified.

    I believe that the Danish cartoons are inflammatory not to inspire change, but to inspire rage which can be then pointed to as examples of how Islam is violent.

    But I am open to the possibility I am wrong. I would encourage anyone interested in testing the hypothesis to draw out the cartoon I described above concerning Jesus and wear it to Greek Orthodox Church. Or better yet, with St. Patrick’s day around the corner, get a flag and urinate on it at a bar… maybe we’ll discover that such violence and rage is a purely Muslim phenomenon.

    =)

  10. Lulu Malone Says:

    So much fun! I love a great discussion. Thanks for indulging me, wormwood (or can I call you artemisia for short?)

    OK: No, I agree with you that the cartoonist was trying to inspire rage amongst Muslims. Though, perhaps he/she was also depicting (as is often the case with political cartoons) the fact that somewhere along the way Islam has gone from being centered around their prophet to being at least perceived as being centered around bombs. Maybe they were trying to make a statement about Islamic terrorists, and everyone missed the point.

    Point #2: (a)How does one, in a Theocratic society, separate culture from religion?
    (b)All of the monotheistic religions are indoctrinated/institutionalized patriarchy and misogyny from their origin, up until today. The fact that people moderate them to be less so suggests an influence on religion from modern, secular culture, not the other way around. Both Islam and Christianity trace their origins to Judaism, which was the beginning of the removal of the divine feminine from religion with the introduction of a solar phallic patriarchal god. Female divinity was stripped out of it, and the female Universal energies ignored, or more precisely, when that was not possible, demonized.

    Point #3: I would agree that all religions deviate from their holy books–one reason that religions are hypocritical in the first place. Does this not prove that their books cannot be truly holy or words of god, if people can deviate from them? Does this not question the veracity of the religion in the first place, since its very existence is supposed to be based on words that dictate human behavior? How can you pick and choose what is to be followed, if a book is supposed to be the words of a god? Perhaps the moderate position would be to realize that the tenets of such books are archaic and primitive, and find a new way. If a holy book has to be so altered as to make it acceptable in today’s society, than is such a moderate group really following the same religion, or have these people started a new one with modified tenets?

    I think that most of society’s ills can be traced to religion. That, and the fact that humans think they are more evolved then they are, which is compounded by the rapid advancement of technology.

    I think the cartoon proved that a fairly large segment of people who follow Islam are violent. Whether that was a “nice” thing to do does not change that people went batshit because of a cartoon. We may just disagree on this.

    I don’t remember anyone saying that violence and rage is purely a Muslim phenomenon. It is a human phenomenon. I have, to test your theory, been tempted to be completely un-pc, rude, and inflammatory by wearing a “if I were Mary, I would have aborted Jesus” t-shirt to an abortion protest rally to stir things up a bit, but haven’t had the time.

  11. w0rmwood Says:

    “I think the cartoon proved that a fairly large segment of people who follow Islam are violent. Whether that was a “nice” thing to do does not change that people went batshit because of a cartoon. We may just disagree on this.”

    I guess my disagreement with this is two fold:

    1) Doing something to incite violence, and then pointing to violence when it occurs, only proves that you were able to incite violence. It does not, in my opinion, provide reliable proof that the group that you incited was inherently more ‘inciteable’ than any other.

    2) There are an estimated 1.61 billion Muslims in the world. How many would have to act violent, or explicitly condone violent action for your statement to be factually true?

    Ps – please take picture of the JC Abortion t-shirt if you wear it out. =)

  12. Lulu Malone Says:

    If one or two people act violent and say it is because they are a certain religion, than they are nutballs. If mobs of people act violent screaming the name of their god and spilling blood unto his name (which by definition is a ritualistic blood sacrifice to a deity), and many others condone these actions unto their god, then the religion has a violent current.

    Let’s take Satanism–a branch of Christianity. Richard Ramirez was a self-professed Satanist who was also a serial killer. Now, many people assume that all Satanists are killers and commit human sacrifice, but that is not the case. Most Satanists are self-indulgent, prone to dramatics, and rarely even bother to do ritual. At best, they commit acts of self-mutilation. Most don’t kill anything.

    If mobs of Satanists burned down churches and slaughtered people when people made ugly cartoons about them, or criticized their beloved Satan, one could make the argument that they were violent.

    For you, artemisia, I’ll even get it wet first. That always gets the Christians–hard nipples AND sacrilege.

  13. max Says:

    Well. Pointing a finger at Islam for violence these days is pretty common but I cannot think off the top of my head of many religions that do not advocate and practice violence in one branch or another.

  14. max Says:

    I believe it is inaccurate to term Satanism a branch of Christianity. To make that kind of leap, you would also have to say Christianity and Islam [and Satanism] are all branches of Judaism, and I do not believe they are.

  15. Rodney Says:

    Something something something dark side. Something something something complete.

    As in this is an even bigger jackpot than when the Emperor figured out the formula for great Star Wars dialogue.

    I’m tired of the whole “I’m killing in the name of my god” excuse. If your going to kill someone, own up to it. Just like if you are going to take steriods and play baseball.

  16. thekenji Says:

    I think the Danish cartoon incident has been additionally shaped by a particularity of our very recent modern era- the internet and global communication.

    We all know how a controversial topic can be stoked to an inferno by the nature of internet media. Threatening someone with violence is stupidly easy to do online… I’ve seen it done so often over the pettiest of issues.

    There are plenty of radical extremists of all religions describing their highly violent tendencies all over the world, but the fact that islam is currently a hot topic, muslims feel particularly persecuted, and that viral news-casting is skyrocketing all combine to form a voltron of shit-talk is pretty undeniable.

  17. Rodney Says:

    Kenji, how dare you insult the internet, my one true diety. I shall smote thee in the name of slashdot. Fear the wrath of imdb…FEAR IT.

    Are you fearing it yet? I’m just checking. I’ll be back later.

  18. thekenji Says:

    Hmm… nope, not fearing it yet. Leave me a reminder on my Facebook wall and I’ll get back to you.


  19. Unsurprisingly I strongly disagree with the PC half rationlizing of Islamo thugh bullying. I will respond in full post form.

  20. Lulu Malone Says:

    Good morning!

    You know, when I write or comment about religion, I write about the tenets, the philosophies, the dogma, not necessarily the followers. Many religious people are decent, good people, of any religion (including Satanism.)

    There are indeed few religions that do not have violence within them, either through past actions, or current practice, save perhaps the Buddhists and certain Hindus. This post focused on Muslims, so that was why I at least focused on them in my responses, though I did mention others.

    I find it quite interesting, the problem of Eclecticism and religion, and its inclusive, all-tolerant nature. My intense passion against religion is not out of hatred, but in response to it. I would like to say that again because I feel it is important: My passions against religion is in response to hatred, not out of a desire to spread or create it.

    I find it interesting that so many people run to the defense of groups when they get targeted in the world for terrible acts because they seem to feel sorry for them after a while. How do we stamp our atrocity if we do not persecute it? No one felt sorry for the Nazis when we persecuted them for what they did. We are supposed to condemn, as civilized, evolved people, those who commit atrocity. Yet, not many seem to have the stomach for standing up against others in this case.

    Change is not made without action, and action will never be born out of tolerance and acquiescence to intimidation. Someone has to take a stand and fight for the world to change, and stop tolerating horrific behavior under the name of religious practice and belief. This is the one constant throughout history–atrocity carried out in the name of gods. As Rodney said, personal responsibility.

    I classify Satanism as a branch of Christianity because they acknowledge the Judeo-Christian god, Yahweh, Jesus, and then an anti-christ (sometimes), and Satan. Satan is part of the Christian pantheon. Many people call Satanists Pagan, but Satan is not a part of any pantheon but Christian (or monotheism), and religions are classed by pantheon. Most Satanists are not polytheistic, either–another Pagan trait.

    Satan, or Lucifer, for that matter, was not a part of the Bible, but constructs that came later, though Lucifer, whose name in Latin means “light bearer”, was actually the “Morning Star”, which is the planet Venus. Satan originally meant “adversary”, or one who is outside our society, or in legal opposition to another. It later became the name for an anti-god, or oppositional figure to the one “true” god. Therefore, the closest pantheon that he fits in is Christianity. The symbols used in Satanism are drawn from a variety of spiritualities , because Satanism is basically a modern construct born out of rebellion more than any sort of religious zeal, save perhaps a zeal for self-indulgence.

  21. Rodney Says:

    How about now Kenji? You fearing the wrath yet? If not, I am willing to let this whole thing go because I really have no other recourse, and I wasn’t all that worked up about it in the first place.

  22. Rodney Says:

    “Unsurprisingly I strongly disagree with the PC half rationlizing of Islamo thugh bullying. I will respond in full post form.”

    And I will respond by reading said post, storing the information and then perhaps regurgitating it at a later date. Take that!!!

  23. w0rmwood Says:

    “Unsurprisingly I strongly disagree with the PC half rationlizing of Islamo thugh bullying.”

    “I find it interesting that so many people run to the defense of groups when they get targeted in the world for terrible acts because they seem to feel sorry for them after a while. How do we stamp our atrocity if we do not persecute it?”

    My point was never to condone acts of ‘atrocity’ or ‘bullying’ – and I don’t feel the post did that.

    My point is that I condemn the inciting of rage, the provoking of others for no other reason then to point and say that its proof of their ‘violent nature.’

    However, whenever we read about this issue, it tends to be about how violent and irrational the radical components of Islam are. Fine. Granted.

    But what about how deeply malicious, and legitimately provoking the cartoons are?

    To return to my urinating on the Irish flag example. I doubt anyone would defend me being killed for doing that, but I would be surprised if nobody noted how deliberately doing something to enrage others played a roll in those people being enraged.

  24. Rodney Says:

    I see what your saying workwood and I agree with you. I am not defending either side, but I agree with the point where if you do something deliberatly and premeditated to get a certain response, and then you get that repsonse you shouldn’t get all happy and say “See I was right”

    I’m trying to find another situation that is similar that takes religion out of the equation. Maybe it’s like having a dog that is trained to kill on a specific attack word, but is docile most of the time otherwise. Then a person complains that the dog is a hazard. It intentionally goads the dog into attacking something, and then when it does, the person says “See that dog is a menace.” You don’t need to perform the act of goading the dog to proove your point. It’s a needless act.

  25. Rodney Says:

    workwood = wormwood…I lack the ability to change my posts.

  26. w0rmwood Says:

    I actually ‘almost’ used the dog example, as it does indeed take the theoretical point out of the realm of religion.

    However, in the Islamic faith, dogs are considered deeply dirty animals – unfit to even be touched.

    So the metaphor, while apt for describing the kind of ‘goading’ I was referring to, could be misconstrued as drawing a parallel between Muslims and dogs – which is obviously NOT the point.

    ps – I take your slip of wormwood/workwood as a divine sign for me to get back to my readings. =)

    See, god even speaks through illiterate fuckers like Rodney (kidding), and its true, if I couldn’t edit my comments I would have WAY more mistakes than anybody else.

  27. Rodney Says:

    I’m not a smart man…but I know what love is.

    Okay, I’ll stop using movie and Family guy references now as it will lend to the impression that I am a boring asshole.


  28. I have responded…postwise.

  29. thekenji Says:

    Rodney:

    Ooooh, I think I can feel a bit of wrath. I’m pretty sure that’s it… If I squint and and concentrate I can feel a slight burning someplace.

  30. Lulu Malone Says:

    That might be a yeast infection, Kenji.

  31. Rodney Says:

    “Rodney:

    Ooooh, I think I can feel a bit of wrath. I’m pretty sure that’s it… If I squint and and concentrate I can feel a slight burning someplace.”

    Let it fester and get back to me in a week.

    “That might be a yeast infection, Kenji.”

    You can get yeast infections through the internet now? Well that might curtail some of my surfing tendencies.

  32. Lulu Malone Says:

    “You can get yeast infections through the internet now? Well that might curtail some of my surfing tendencies.”

    Yes, first virusus, worms, and now yeast. They have little finger condoms, though, so its OK.

  33. engtech Says:

    You can get yeast infections through the internet now? Well that might curtail some of my surfing tendencies.

    actually, you can if you ride it hard and put it away wet.

    it’s not the internet’s fault, but rather what you do with the internet.

  34. Lulu Malone Says:

    Well, I would trust a techie to know.

  35. James Says:

    Every small business proprietor expects his/her children to behave respectfully towards neighbours, especially when that these neighbours may well be potential customers. The children of such a household intuitively know their family income depends upon the goodwill of these neighbours and they usually behave accordingly. If a child of such a family were to deliberately insult an entire group of potential customers, the child would expect to be punished in some way by the shopkeeper parent. No mitigating circumstances for the child’s action would be allowed except for the fact that it is after all only indeed a child that has not been properly socialised.
    But unsocialised Danish children are not responsible for the insults whose effects are still reverberating throughout the Muslim world. The Danish government should therefore do as the shopkeeper would do; It should punish the culprits who have knowingly and deliberately insulted every muslin person in the world and also embarrassed the rest of us. You do not need an MBA in order to realise the business consequences of walking roughshod over sensibilities of potential customers or the sensibilities of any other group for that matter.
    Those who maintain an anti-violence stance regardless of what insults are hurled at them, and theirs, in the name of so-called free speech are to be admired, but there is something the culprits who hide behind free speech laws need to realise concerning one of society’s major control mechanism. It is not the police, and it is not the threat of mitigation, nor is the unwritten laws that govern the behaviour within a civilised society which prevents undesirable elements from demonstrating certain types of antisocial behaviour. A pervert, for example, does not, in the presence of your children, use the type of profane imagery and language used by some of your subscribers above primarily because he/she fears litigation, or ostracisation by the rest of society; the reluctance to offend in public is due to the fear of having his/her teeth broken-or worse.

  36. noura Says:

    An offensive cartoon is never a reason to kill any one and definitely not to kill someone in this merciless, cold-blooded manner.
    What interests me, though, is that Islam and Muslims are being judged by the action of military groups who in my opinions are psychoes and need to hospitalized. Unfortunately, they have the power to torture and kill and their victims : Muslims and Non-Muslims are in no position to defend themselves.What we can do! I have no idea. I just know that my religion, ISLAM, forbids me to harm anyone; let alone kill them.
    As for the offensive cartoons, Our prophet is far more precious to us; He has never been affected by what happened to him in his life and I know that his image our thoughts is never affected by anything.
    I would also like to suggest that may be it might be an interesting idea if you try to learn about Islam not Muslims. In my opinion, most Muslims, nowadays, do not represent our religion at all.

  37. w0rmwood Says:

    Nice to see the discussion continues, even a full year later.

    One important note though:

    “I would also like to suggest that may be it might be an interesting idea if you try to learn about Islam not Muslims. In my opinion, most Muslims, nowadays, do not represent our religion at all.”

    The term ‘Muslim’ means, in English, ‘an adherent of Islam.’

    Its more literal translation means ‘one who submits’ or ‘one who submits to God or the word of God’

    So, if the comment was meant to imply that ‘Muslims’ are in some way an ethnic group, focused in or around the middle east, this factually incorrect. If the comment was meant to suggest that the religion of Islam should not be judged by the actions of a few radical adherents, this has already been conceded in many comments. However, the term Muslim remains misused.

  38. Caleb Says:

    My two cents:

    Regardless of whether Islam is the cause or just an ingredient of the violent behavior seen in the middle east, it is not causing purely good behavior. Neither is the Bible. Wormwood admitted that what the Bible says and what it MEANS to say are two different things…why? The answer is simple: Because we know today that the way things are is different from the way we used to think they were. The Bible/Quran couldn’t change, so we just changed how we read it. Great, good, awesome – we needed to do this or we were doomed to live in the dark ages forever.

    However there is no doubt that the Quran either promotes, condones or enables the behaviors we see – violent behavior toward apostates, people who speak ill of Islam, women, homosexuals, etc. etc. Now these behaviors are explicitly mentioned in the quran and they APPEAR to be permitted/encouraged. So regardless of whether the behavior is cultural and written into the Quran, or religious and adopted into culture, the Quran is a problem and is not helping the culture move to a more peaceful norm.

    The Bible is a less extreme example, but it is still a hinderance to modern morality. Defending these books is arguing to keep traces of ancient morality in our modern world. It is allowing passages that seem to condone slavery, discrimination, oppression. Whether we still observe these verses or not, it is dangerous to keep them around…we all know that they are misused, but they are defended as sacred all the same.


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