Infamous Danish Cartoon: Assholes are artists, too.

February 21, 2008

 

“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.”

 The intent of a free society is not that we can act without retribution, but that that retribution will be of kind. Laws are upheld by force, ideas are contested with ideas. If I say something wrong, show me my error. If I say something hurtful and misinformed, denounce me as an ill thought bully. If I attack your religion as thuggish and brutal, show me it’s beauty and worth.

 As long as it is not actively inciting hate against someone, I have the right say whatever ever I want, free from intimidation, threats, and blackmail. The wounded party has commensurate rights. If a group cannot respond on the plane of ideas, and must resort to harassment and intimidation for redressment, then they have failed as a civilized member of society and need to be driven from our shores.

“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.

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”

At what point does avoiding overtly provocative publication become bowing to intimidation? A treatise on evolution is wildly offensive to some: Should the publishers enshue it in fear of retribution? Are they assholes because they chose to represent something that others are going to take umbrage with? Should we, as a society, become tepid and voiceless to cater to all sensibilities?

 If you are secure in your beliefs you don’t riot when they are attacked…you educate, you inform, you represent their highest worth by your own actions. You don’t lash out angrily, crying that someone hurt your feelings.   

 Offensive speech, imagery, and ideas have no less artistic merit for their provocation. In some cases they have more: as the intent is to incite and engage; to challenge the inherent sacredness of a tenant or object, and force a dialogue that tests the merit of each idea. To censor, edit, and sanction controversial, or even deliberately inflammatory, expression, is to neuter our capacity to effectively dialogue. Assholes are the agents of evolution and social advancement.

 Not long ago putting forth an image of homosexual love would have been seen as a obscene, gratuitous, attack on the  values and sensibilties of decent people. Should an exhibitor of such an image take threats of violence and intimation as their due, for being an “asshole”? Even if their sole intent to force a reaction, then deride the hypocrisy of that reaction, they are serving an immensely valuable purpose to a free society.     

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61 Responses to “Infamous Danish Cartoon: Assholes are artists, too.”

  1. w0rmwood Says:

    I absolutely agree with much of what you wrote AJ. Though I was disappointed you didn’t more explicitly take up the example of what would happen to my hypothetical anti-Irish free expresser.

    My own personal politics are those of disruption. To break open cracks in sedimented values and positions, in the hopes that others can rise up.

    However, one point I do not think is addressed here, is intent.

    Is ALL free expression the same?

    Is calling someone a ‘worthless Fag’ the same as showing a homosexual image to combat the values that repress it?

    For me, the issue was never about should Muslim extremists be allowed to do violence on the creators of the Danish Cartoon. I think everyone, including the vast majority of 1.6 billion Muslims, agree that this is not valid.

    But again, my point is this: 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.

    I am not saying the law should prohibit these ‘free expressions’ nor am I saying that the law shouldn’t punish those who would do violence in retaliation. What I am saying is that far from proving some ‘conflict of civilization’ thesis, the printing of these cartoons has shown that they are an effective way to goad a particular religious community. Most of that community responded non-violently, a small percentage (focused on by media serving neo-liberal and capitalist agendas) responded with threats, and violence.

    I think we should test the process by having Denmark do some of the other comics I suggested. If violence in Islam is worth a cartoon depicting their sacred prophet with a bomb on his head, surely the prevalence of sexual abuse in christian churches justifies my Jesus sodomy cartoon idea. No?

  2. Lulu Malone Says:

    Smooch. Thanks for backing my arguments, though I think you said it better.

    I must be doing something right. I just got called an idiot over at my place.

    Or, I’m just an idiot :)

  3. Rodney Says:

    ” Not long ago putting forth an image of homosexual love would have been seen as a obscene, gratuitous, attack on the values and sensibilities of decent people. Should an exhibitor of such an image take threats of violence and intimation as their due, for being an “asshole”? Even if their sole intent to force a reaction, then deride the hypocrisy of that reaction, they are serving an immensely valuable purpose to a free society.”

    I don’t think that was the point of Wormwood’s post. I think he was saying that if you put and extremely erotic video of two homosexuals doing it in a public place and then aroused homosexuals come along and start doing it in a public place, you shouldn’t get to say “Hey look, Homosexuals do it in public places.” In this context, do homosexuals do it in public places, yes they do, but leading them down the path to the desired outcome is setting them up to fail ( in this context. Doing it in a public place is cool, as long as you clean up afterwards ). Everyone has a bias, or something that makes them different. There are constructive ways to co-exist and get by those differences. Unfortunately the human race as a whole is not at the point where we can accept difference.

    “If you are secure in your beliefs you don’t riot when they are attacked…you educate, you inform, you represent their highest worth by your own actions. You don’t lash out angrily, crying that someone hurt your feelings.”

    I don’t know enough about the Islamic beliefs to comment on whether bombing people is actually something they support. If you are attacked in an isolated instance, then the above paragraph makes sense, but if there are problems between groups of individuals for several millennia, then the situation has deteriorated to where you don’t have the luxury of poking fun at another group. If the two parties in question got along, then there is the possibility that both parties would laugh, or at the very least the offended party could say “Not cool man, just not cool”. However, because of the extended nature of the conflict, any slight causes more problems than it helps.

  4. thekenji Says:

    Mmmm…. I smell an inter-Beats Entropy fatwa brewing.

  5. w0rmwood Says:

    “I don’t think that was the point of Wormwood’s post. I think he was saying that if you put and extremely erotic video of two homosexuals doing it in a public place and then aroused homosexuals come along and start doing it in a public place, you shouldn’t get to say “Hey look, Homosexuals do it in public places.” In this context, do homosexuals do it in public places, yes they do, but leading them down the path to the desired outcome is setting them up to fail ( in this context. Doing it in a public place is cool, as long as you clean up afterwards ). Everyone has a bias, or something that makes them different. There are constructive ways to co-exist and get by those differences. Unfortunately the human race as a whole is not at the point where we can accept difference.”

    Damn Rodney, that was absolutely fucking beautiful.

    In fact, I was so moved by your amazing summary of my point, I went back and corrected Ubfortunately to Unfortunately.

    Now bask in the glory of my magnanimous comment editing generosity!

    =)


  6. “It does not, in my opinion, provide reliable proof that the group that you incited was inherently more ‘inciteable’ than any other.”

    Show me one Christian/Secular nation where speaking against a faith or historical figure can get you executed? A legally sanctioned execution.

    Are really contesting that a statistigcaly signifgant portion of representatives of Islam don’t respond to challanges against their faith with violence and oppresion? That this portion is not statistically more likely to respond to provacation with more extreme measures, than the vast majority of other demographic subsets?


  7. And this not to say that Muslims are bad. Just that it’s no unreasonable to suggest they are indeed easier to incite to extreme ends than most other groups.


  8. “Is ALL free expression the same?
    Is calling someone a ‘worthless Fag’ the same as showing a homosexual image to combat the values that repress it?”

    Does it all have the same moral weight? No. But it does all need to be defended with the same diligence to avoid subjective haggling that erodes the capacity and facility for the noble kind. If you start value testing then you court situations where the conservative majority becomes tyrannus, or the vocal minority becomes a bookend on dynamic thought.

  9. w0rmwood Says:

    “Show me one Christian/Buddhist/Secular nation where speaking against a faith or historical figure can get you executed? A legally sanctioned execution.”

    It gets complicated if you start talking about States. First off, the recent plot to kill the cartoonists was not sanctioned by any states, but rather (at least in principle) by some religious leaders. Secondly, because most Judea/Christian countries are now ‘secular’ we rarely see the state explicitly acting for the church…

    However, are there examples where Christian religious leaders openly advocating for murder? Sure pro-lifers, anti-homosexual movements, even racist sects of Christianity all have active priests telling their followers to commit these acts.

    Are they legal? No. Not strictly speaking. Are there places where the religious leaders have enough sway that the guilty are not punished? I would argue absolutely yes!

    Another interesting thing about secular society is that we pretend that most people aren’t religious. So, for example, when we say that 3 out of 4 girls in North America will experience a sexual assault before they turn 18 years old – the fact that those occur in predominantly white Judea/Christian households is not considered important.

    If that statistic is found in a ‘Muslim country,’ the fact that the individuals are Muslim is taken to be of primary relevance.

    But again, my point is not that these terrible things don’t happen, or that they are ok.

    My point is that inciting a riot doesn’t prove that the people you incited to riot are bad or inherently prone to riots – only that you understood enough about them to incite them.

  10. Rodney Says:

    ““Is ALL free expression the same?
    Is calling someone a ‘worthless Fag’ the same as showing a homosexual image to combat the values that repress it?”

    Does it all have the same moral weight? No. But it does all need to be defended with the same diligence to avoid subjective haggling that erodes the capacity and facility for the noble kind. If you start value testing then you court situations where the conservative majority becomes tyrannus, or the vocal minority becomes a bookend on dynamic thought.”

    But by calling someone a worthless fag, could you not be inciting hate? Also the picture above could also incite hate. In your post, you point out that you shouldn’t incite hate. I’m going to add one more sentence here with the word incite in it because I like using the word incite.


  11. ““I don’t think that was the point of Wormwood’s post. I think he was saying that if you put and extremely erotic video of two homosexuals doing it in a public place and then aroused homosexuals come along and start doing it in a public place, you shouldn’t get to say “Hey look, Homosexuals do it in public places.”

    A different example: If I stand in a public square in China, and practice some Fallun Gong, knowing this will lead to my arrest and attack by military police…should I not get to say “The Chinese government is brutal and oppressive”. Sometime you must elicit bad behavior to highlight and protest it.

    And the fundamentalist Muslims’ world violent response to the Cartoons is no less vile that than the example above.


  12. “But by calling someone a worthless fag, could you not be inciting hate?”

    No, you are expressing contempt. If you said ‘Fags are worthless, and should be harmed” then that is hate speech. You can make a value judgement, you just can’t incite others to bring harm to them.

  13. Rodney Says:

    “A different example: If I stand in a public square in China, and practice some Fallun Gong, knowing this will lead to my arrest and attack by military police…should I not get to say “The Chinese government is brutal and oppressive”. Sometime you must elicit bad behavior to highlight and protest it.

    And the fundamentalist Muslims’ world violent response to the Cartoons is no less vile that than the example above.”

    If you know the outcome before you do it, why not just say “The Chinese government is brutal and oppressive”. Why do you have to practice Falun Gong in the square to proove your point? Why add one more instance proof, where substainial amounts of evidence already exist, like Tieman Square?

  14. w0rmwood Says:

    So a quick summary:

    1) I would defend the right to print those cartoons

    2) I think those cartoons are distasteful, and designed to incite hate/conflict/violence. I think they are effective in accomplishing these goals.

    3) I do not condone those who would do violence on the creator’s or publishers of those cartoons. Though, as noted above, i have nothing but distaste for both.

    4) I support the boycotting of Danish products, and secretly hope the Danish artist in question loses everything in a cheese-boycott-induced stock crash that leaves him/her peddling obscure sexual services to a leper colony in Paraguay.

    5) I think that freedom of expression does not free one from the consequences of that expression. It is, as AJ rightly points out, a slippery slope, but I do think that laws limiting self-expression where it can incite hate or cause harm (like riots) are valid.

    6) I think 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.

  15. Rodney Says:

    “No, you are expressing contempt. If you said ‘Fags are worthless, and should be harmed” then that is hate speech. You can make a value judgement, you just can’t incite others to bring harm to them.”

    Ah, sorry about that. I didn’t understand the definition of hate.

  16. w0rmwood Says:

    AJ, take up my example of the guy who dresses up in a British Uniform and pisses on the Irish flag in an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s day.

    It is a closer match than your China example, because the cartoon wasn’t pointing out that an oppressive government was going to stop its printing. The cartoon was depicting something it KNEW would really upset Muslims (which the creators clearly expected to be violent), for the sole purpose of inciting the reaction.


  17. “Why do you have to practice Falun Gong in the square to proove your point? Why add one more instance proof, where substainial amounts of evidence already exist, like Tieman Square?”

    Because brutality and opression need to be confronted, kept in the light, and resisted…even at peril of personal saftey and social unrest. Should we just acccept that theocratic bullying is inevitable and just sweep it under the rug…so we can just all get along?

  18. Rodney Says:

    “Because brutality and opression need to be confronted, kept in the light, and resisted…even at peril of personal saftey and social unrest. Should we just acccept that theocratic bullying is inevitable and just sweep it under the rug…so we can just all get along?”

    Who said you should sweep it under the rug? I’m not saying that you should oppose brutality or opression. I’m saying I think there is a better way to oppose it. By getting yourself beat and arrested in a square, you haven’t moved towards a solution. All you have done is added a footnote to the problem.

  19. Rodney Says:

    should = shouldn’t…I type to fast sometimes.


  20. “AJ, take up my example of the guy who dresses up in a British Uniform and pisses on the Irish flag in an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s day.
    It is a closer match than your China example,”

    I disagree. I see that as on par with going to Sens game in Leafs Jersey. Provactive, and kind of stupid, but lacking in any legitimate commentary.

    Calling attention to the violence in the Muslim world, and how the Prophet has become the rallying call for such violence, in an editorial cartoon, is well within the mandate of the press (and consistent with how other religions and public figures are treated in the same medium). The fact the such a act could incite violence only reinforces the message, and gives the act an added dimension of artistic relevance.


  21. “Who said you should sweep it under the rug? I’m not saying that you should oppose brutality or opression. I’m saying I think there is a better way to oppose it. By getting yourself beat and arrested in a square, you haven’t moved towards a solution. All you have done is added a footnote to the problem.’

    Tell that to Ghandi.

  22. Rodney Says:

    “Tell that to Ghandi.”

    I tried, but he is the most stubborn man on the face of the planet. Makes me want to slap him.

    I never said that you have to be a pacifist either. In your example though, you sacrifice yourself for no gain. You get beaten and put in jail and therefore remove your self from the equation. Dammit A.J. I need you in the game man. How could you be so foolish?

  23. Rodney Says:

    “I disagree. I see that as on par with going to Sens game in Leafs Jersey. Provactive, and kind of stupid, but lacking in any legitimate commentary.”

    Well, unless you are a Leaf fan. Nicely disguised jab by the way.

  24. w0rmwood Says:

    Ok, I will grant that the example of urinating on the Irish flag lacks the potential ‘editorial value’ that other examples have. Though i still am curious whether a violent reaction would prove how violent the Irish are.

    So, new example.

    I go to Vatican city during the holy week preceding Easter and set up a little display of cartoons depicting the Pope, several saints, and Jesus raping alter boys, while wearing Nazi uniforms.

    I would be drawing attention to the fact that the Catholic church helped the Nazis during WWII and that it has continued to ignore a widespread problem with sexual abuse of youth within its institution.

    Do you not think this might incite a violent response?


  25. “I go to Vatican city during the holy week preceding Easter and set up a little display of cartoons depicting the Pope, several saints, and Jesus raping alter boys, while wearing Nazi uniforms.

    I would be drawing attention to the fact that the Catholic church helped the Nazis during WWII and that it has continued to ignore a widespread problem with sexual abuse of youth within its institution.

    Do you not think this might incite a violent response?”

    Wormwood: They did not draw this cartoon on the side of a mosque in downtown Riyadh. It was published in a English language newspaper in a secular nation. Surely you are sophisticated enough to understand the distinction.

    Yes, if you enter someones home, call their dead mother a whore, and laugh about how their wife was recently raped to death, there comes a point were it is absurd to not expect a reasonable person to react. That kind of reducto ad absurdum doesn’t blanket justify suppressing satirical, or editorial, addressing of sensitive issues.

  26. Rodney Says:

    “Ok, I will grant that the example of urinating on the Irish flag lacks the potential ‘editorial value’ that other examples have. Though i still am curious whether a violent reaction would prove how violent the Irish are.

    So, new example.

    I go to Vatican city during the holy week preceding Easter and set up a little display of cartoons depicting the Pope, several saints, and Jesus raping alter boys, while wearing Nazi uniforms.

    I would be drawing attention to the fact that the Catholic church helped the Nazis during WWII and that it has continued to ignore a widespread problem with sexual abuse of youth within its institution.

    Do you not think this might incite a violent response?”

    Actually I have to disagree with this example as well. If you have said that it incited them to but on a Nazi outfit and abuse young children, then I would have agreed with it. My issue is with the entrapment as a means through which to point out a groups flaws. I also have issue with the groups flaws, but then I am sure they have issues with mine as well.

  27. Lulu Malone Says:

    “I go to Vatican city during the holy week preceding Easter and set up a little display of cartoons depicting the Pope, several saints, and Jesus raping alter boys, while wearing Nazi uniforms.

    I would be drawing attention to the fact that the Catholic church helped the Nazis during WWII and that it has continued to ignore a widespread problem with sexual abuse of youth within its institution.

    Do you not think this might incite a violent response?”

    What–from the pope, who was in the Nazi Youth?

  28. Lulu Malone Says:

    “Tell that to Ghandi.”

    Who was shot in the chest by a Muslim.

  29. Lulu Malone Says:

    You know, if you go into a Mental institution and taunt a violent psychopath, you will probably get hurt. That doesn’t mean the psychopath isn’t a psychopath.

    I think the cartoon was commentary on the state of Islam today–at least a large protion of it, which makes it a political cartoon. We have to be able to have social commentary, no matter how offensive to some. Otherwise, we will ultimately be silenced and controlled.

    You can draw a cartoon of Priests molesting children and it would be valid in the same way.

    I would like to take a moment of silence for the slain leader Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan who was butchered by radical Muslims. She was also Muslim.

  30. w0rmwood Says:

    Rodney – ya, I agree. My example wasn’t clear. The reason i chose those topics was because one could argue that the point of the Danish cartoon was to draw attention to suicide bombers as part of Islam. I have no issue with the fact that one wants to draw attention to a problem, but some ways are more effective than others.

    I think the motives behind these were, to use your language, to entrap. I want to prove Black people are violent, so I go and taunt a black person until he punches me. Then I suggest that this proves that black people are violent.

    Its frustratingly reductionist.

    My problem isn’t with free expression, its with the way in which the responses are picked up by the media.

    Anyways, this conversation has been far more interesting that the very dry book on Power I am supposed to be reading…

    =)

  31. Jive Says:

    I once saw part of a British TV show aimed at car enthusiasts and DIY mechanics. As part of that particular episode the hosts painted their cars in ways that they felt would be dangerously provocative in the American deep south and then proceeded to drive them around in some southern state. I can’t remember where exactly. I think the worst of the 3 cars participating was pink with “I am gay” or “I love gays” written on it. This was on TLC or something so none of the cars were at what you might call a “Beats Entropy” level of provocative.

    These British gear heads were indeed repeatedly threatened with violence and chased out of town.

    I point this out in response to comments in this discussion suggesting that Muslims are more prone to violent reactions in response to attacks on their faith.

    Violent wakos with no understanding of their own religion are everywhere. It just so happens that mainstream news is much more interested in wakos of the Muslim variety and that skews our perception.

    The debate is further clouded by the fact that north americans generally believe more strongly in Santa than God. You can say what you want about our god, Gearge Burns played him in a movie for fuck’s sake.

    If you want to test the west’s commitment to free speech why not try buying ad time on a major network to talk about how many kids in the good ol’ US of A die of third world diseases because their parents can’t afford medical care or about how our current economic system excels as destroying the environment and concentrating wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

    Last I checked Adbusters was still loosing that particular case in the Canadian supreme court.

  32. Rodney Says:

    “You know, if you go into a Mental institution and taunt a violent psychopath, you will probably get hurt. That doesn’t mean the psychopath isn’t a psychopath.”

    Yes, but I don’t think you can come out of there complaining about how you were hurt by a psychopath. You incited a physchopath. You can’t then turn around and then use the fact that you got hurt as a basis that all phsycopaths are prone to violence. It’s an isolated instance, and one that you yourself provoked.

    “I think the cartoon was commentary on the state of Islam today–at least a large protion of it, which makes it a political cartoon. We have to be able to have social commentary, no matter how offensive to some. Otherwise, we will ultimately be silenced and controlled.

    You can draw a cartoon of Priests molesting children and it would be valid in the same way.”

    I think some cartoons implying that have been silenced. What about Sinead O’Connor on Saturday Night Live? I think the biggest issue in any situation like this is that there is no clear cut right or wrong answer. There is no way to proove your beleif so you get in to a might is right situation and that’s no good for anyone.

    “I would like to take a moment of silence for the slain leader Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan who was butchered by radical Muslims. She was also Muslim.”

    Unecessary death is what I think we should all try to avoid.

  33. Rodney Says:

    Great post Jive.

  34. Rodney Says:

    Good luck with your book Wormwood.

  35. Pollyanna Sassmaster Says:

    “If you want to test the west’s commitment to free speech why not try buying ad time on a major network to talk about how many kids in the good ol’ US of A die of third world diseases because their parents can’t afford medical care or about how our current economic system excels as destroying the environment and concentrating wealth in fewer and fewer hands.”

    Oooooooh Jive! Nicely put. This is tangential, but you might be interested in this piece from the NY Times regarding Verizon’s decision last fall to not allow pro-choice text messages to be delivered over their network – very interesting for anyone concerned about how much control private companies have over the public expression of ideas (and digital communications policy in general):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/03/opinion/03wed1.html?ex=1349064000&en=8361281d73732e96&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

  36. Mike Says:

    “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.”

    I’m kinda torn on this since I figure; post an inflammatory-religious-cartoon-that-incites-violence once shame on them, post an inflammatory-religious-cartoon-that-incites-violence twice shame on you. However I gotta say Wormwood’s above statement really just rubs me the wrong way. Where’s the personal responsibility in this? If I’m inciting violence you don’t have to react. You can choose to recognize it as an attempt to incite. Same with me telling you to kick a puppy, or have promiscuous sex with octopi. Even if I stand in front of your face screaming “hit me, hit me!” you still are responsible for your actions in the end. So if I incite violence, and then point to said violence when it occurs, not only does this proves that I was able to incite violence but that the individuals were willing to be violent.

  37. Lulu Malone Says:

    I agree with Mike. We all have free will-to act, and react, or not.

    And Jive (not to be confused with hand-jive), Michael Moore has yet to get one of his movies shown on US Television. The corporate controlled media has their own agenda, with Fascism being a part of it.

    Yet, pharmacists in our country can refuse to fill prescriptions if they object to the medication due to their religion, like birth control, or the morning after pill, and leave some women, for example, hung out to dry.

    You are right, Rodney, my psychopath example proved Wormwood’s argument.

    There has been enough killing.

  38. w0rmwood Says:

    “So if I incite violence, and then point to said violence when it occurs, not only does this proves that I was able to incite violence but that the individuals were willing to be violent.”

    Agreed. When I say that someone has been ‘incited’ to do violence, I do not mean to suggest that they were robbed of their free will, or in some way spared personal responsibility for their actions. (Though in law, for example, provocation is often considered a mitigating circumstance – though never an excuse)

    What I would say is that all of us have the potential of being provoked. Its just a matter of how.

    If we are provoked, we are absolutely responsible for our actions. But it wouldn’t be fair to say that we were inherently super violent, all that we could really say is that we were susceptible to provocation.

    Beyond that, I would argue that you couldn’t even argue we were more susceptible to provocation than everybody else – unless you put equal effort into provoking everyone else and showed that they were able to ignore such provocations longer.

  39. Lulu Malone Says:

    Now that was well said.

  40. Lulu Malone Says:

    OK, so now that I’ve slept, I have a question for you guys: Everyone seems to have assumed, during this discussion, that there is a point when they would be pushed into violence by some sort of insult, taunt, or similar provocation.

    I realize that I could not be pushed into violent action in this way. It would be a very conscious decision on my part–to respond with violence, and there are few actions that could produce this reaction in me, which would include: imminent physical threat, home invasion, or imminent physical threat of a loved one. Even this has been something I have had to condition myself to be able to do, because I have been assaulted, and did not respond in kind.

    Therefore, my question is: Is this a gender thing?

    The last time I was assaulted, and granted, it was minor, but still–my arm was grabbed and squeezed hard by a guy in a bar who I had had a conversation with, but had told I did not want to fuck. He did this when he walked passed me and I was talking to another guy. I wanted to hit him in the face, or pull his esophagus out through his neck, but did neither, and basically sat a bit incredulous at his possessive reaction of me after a ten minute conversation, but that is another discussion.

    It takes a LOT to provoke me to violence, despite a desire to shoot some people in the face. So, I ask.

  41. w0rmwood Says:

    “It takes a LOT to provoke me to violence, despite a desire to shoot some people in the face.”

    I think most of us would be in the same boat. Individually at least, most of us would not respond to provocation with violence – unless it was some pretty extreme provocation.

    But levels of provocation are of course value judgments.

    For example, someone wiping their ass with pages from Liber AL vel Legis, wouldn’t bother me much at all – except that I really hate to see books destroyed.

    Not to say that it would incite violence in another, but it would likely incite a stronger emotional response in someone who adhered to that set of beliefs, and for whom that book was a symbol of a certain belief system.

    So my answer is yes, the question is gendered. But its also racialized, as well as socially, morally, ethically, temporally located.

    My thesis is that it is possible to provoke anyone, and possible to provoke a violent response out of nearly anyone.

    In regards to the question at hand, I think many religious groups could be provoked to violence. Just as many Nationalist groups, and even many anti-religious or anti-nationalist groups can be. (See riots in Serbia over Kosovo independence)

    Those of us who don’t hold any particular set of values as ‘fiercely’ (or in my opinion dogmatically) as others, likely are less easily provokable on the grounds of such values.

  42. Rodney Says:

    My first reaction is not one of violence. I think it is an individual thing. However the quote “a person is smart, people are stupid” comes to mind.


  43. I’m likely in the minority on this site: in that if someone was intent on getting their teeth kicked down there throat I would likely oblige them.

    I’m not going to respond to simple harassments with violence…but if someone tries to physically intimidate me, or insists on confrontation I wouldn’t hesitate respond physically.

    Like I said before: you respond to ideas with ideas, force with force. Some people simple don’t respond to rational engagement, so you need to address them on their level.

  44. Lulu Malone Says:

    “For example, someone wiping their ass with pages from Liber AL vel Legis, wouldn’t bother me much at all – except that I really hate to see books destroyed.”

    I, myself, would think that would chafe a bit. I prefer a softer, more supple paper for that purpose [grin]

    True Thelemites wouldn’t tend to be offended by such an act, I expect, since we are not dogmatic, and realize that the piece of paper the words are printed on are pieces of paper, and not holy in their own right, except, perhaps, to the trees whose flesh they once were.

    Some might get upset if it was the original, handwritten copy, but I, myself, would go on with life. All die and decay at some point.

  45. Lulu Malone Says:

    A.J., you are very Thelemic in your own right, by the way.

  46. Lulu Malone Says:

    “a person is smart, people are stupid”

    So true.

  47. Lulu Malone Says:

    In some ways, A.J., I’ve tried to become more like you say. By establishing boundaries with others, we can have more control over how we are treated. It took me a long time to figure out that a person will only treat you as well as you demand to be treated.

    I find the more dominent I am, especially with men, the more I am treated with respect. The more fear, or lack of confidence I showed in the past, the more I was bullied, or pushed around.

    Plus, a lot of men seem to like it when you scare them a little [wink]

    Sorry for the post-chain. I keep thinking of things to say.

  48. thekenji Says:

    Men can be scared in many different ways.

  49. max Says:

    I think the distinction this is a comic published in a newspaper, not graffiti spray painted on a mosque wall, is an important distinction. This did not take place on a special holiday, did not take place in a forum of worship or, for that matter, even in an Islamic nation. Comparisons between publishing that cartoon in a newspaper and peeing on flags on St. Patrick’s Day or defacing the Vatican do not really make a lot of sense to me.

  50. Cal Says:

    a man who had an arabic accent today at my work commented on these dicktard mousepads we’re selling (they’re oriental rugs). i’m sure some of you have seen them, the package depicts them being used with a mac mouse i might add. anyway as he’s purchasing some variant of pcb, he asks how much they are.

    “22 bucks” i reply slightly rolling my eyes.
    “22 dollars for a mini prayer mat?”
    “yup”
    “where are they from Mecca?”

  51. Cal Says:

    newspapers are garbage, they’re all politically motivated fish wrappers with no sense of neutrality or honour. publishing political cartoons under the guise of free speech is pure rectal discharge. it’s no different than someone doing graff-work on a building, in some ways it’s worse. ’cause they’re using the privilege of being employed by an organization that’s capable of reaching people on a global scale instead of the tagger that only gets exposed to those seeing offensive graffiti in person. either way i could care less, i’ve a hard enough time trying to coexist with my mental instabilities and surviving on a day to day basis than wax-intellect over a piss poor depiction of Muhammad looking more like an angry cossack on a cheap bottle of vodka. although i must say the danish ass rapin’ two guys is clever…

  52. w0rmwood Says:

    Max – You are right, the exact contexts are different. It would be more akin to the NYTimes running a cartoon insulting the Hebrew God.

    However, in context, in gets messier.

    Denmark is a member of the coalition of the willing. So that cartoon was run by a newspaper in a country whose soldiers were on the ground in Iraq supposedly helping ‘liberate’ that predominantly Muslim country from its oppressive government.

    So while some argue its a self expression pointing to the irrational violence of some, that same nation is in fact being more violent… though apparently in a more ‘rational’ way.

    The reason I kept the examples abstract is because the point I was commenting on was the act of incitement, and the following media portrayal of the reaction as furthering a belief in the inherent violence of the religion.

    My example of wearing the Jesus Sodomy T-shirt to Vatican City, or to a Greek Orthodox church – in matter of fact – would have those images reach far less people, and with far less credibility, then a national newspaper.

  53. max Says:

    I do not think there is a comparable context. Western newspapers and periodicals regularly publish satirical cartoons depicting politicians and religious figures — and for that matter, celebrities — in questionable or comparative scenarios and it does not result in international relations breakdowns or death threats. However, ways of thought and religious attitudes in the West and in the Middle East differ hugely. A British grammar school teacher was arrested and threatened with execution in the Middle East for allowing her students to name a Teddy Bear Mohammed. I find it highly doubtful there was malice behind her act. Ignorance of the religious mores of the culture she was immersed in yes. Malice no. If a teacher immersed in the culture can mistake values and mores around her so grossly she accidentally commits an act that carries the death penalty, I do not think you can accuse a Western cartoonist not immersed in the culture who is used to satirizing religious and political figures in Western media of having great malice on his mind when he did the same with a Middle Eastern religious figure. Had he drawn the Pope or Jesus Christ wearing a bomb for a hat, the situation would not be the same or even similar. In the Middle East, that is an act that carries the death penalty. In the West, it is social commentary.

    These are very different mind sets one of which has no room for tolerance of opposing opinion. I come from the tolerance side. And I will tolerate a differing opinion or mindset. I do not think however the entire world should be forced to exercise a singular intolerance of opinion because one nation or a few nation states in one small part of the world wish to impose it on the world population.

  54. max Says:

    Oh for fuck’s sake, I have been working today for hours here wiping out my brain just hoping for any sort of entertaining respite and no one has anything mindless or ancilliary [fuck if I can spell that] or just plain obnoxiously belligerant to add? No one? Nothing? On Beats?

    I am not on Beats I am on Grace’s Magazine, right?

  55. w0rmwood Says:

    Max, how can you possibly be disappointed?

    We managed to have a 100+ comment discussion that peaked with an original piece of art depicting AJ and I being double penetrated, in (probably) the first ever ass-to-ass-by-pastry scene.

    I mean really, what more could you possibly want?

  56. max Says:

    24 hour entertainment. Doy. What you boys think you can put up some shoddy butt sex danish and then coast on that?

    Hmph.

    I think not.

  57. Lulu Malone Says:

    “Men can be scared in many different ways.”

    OOOh, Kenji, are you flirting with me?

  58. Cal Says:

    politics makes me lose my chub.

  59. idealogue Says:

    thats actually pronounced ‘her-pies’

    the p,o,l,i,t,i,c, and s are silent.

  60. Mike Says:

    So I was re-reading this at work and I completely missed half of what was going on the first go round. So, I feel like picking on point 4 of Wormwood’s summary
    “4) I support the boycotting of Danish products, and secretly hope the Danish artist in question loses everything in a cheese-boycott-induced stock crash that leaves him/her peddling obscure sexual services to a leper colony in Paraguay.”

    Don’t punish the whole for actions of a few. Ok so it’s not much of a rebuttal but honestly we can’t lump a whole country’s population into one boat on the actions of a few. (Even though that has seem to been par for the course for US policy on Muslims) Two wrong… blah, blah, do the right thing, blah, blah. Yadda, yadda, yadda….. PROFIT!


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