Thursday, February 02, 2006

Where is OUR spine, damnit?

We are all Danes now.

So far, the 12 cartoons of Mohammed, published originally in Denmark on 30 Sept 2005 following a two week long debate on self censorship and the widespread fear of criticising Islam, have been printed in Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Where is the editor in the UK with the will to do what is right and stand up for the Freedom of the Press? For goodness sake, it was the Scots in what was then the nascent UK who came up with the concepts of Freedom of Speech and the supremacy of Reason during the Enlightenment.

The BBC's coverage of this has been appalling:
  • They have completely failed to report the original context behind the September publication of the cartoons, without which the Danish reaction (and that of the blogosphere) makes no sense;
  • There is no attempt to defend Freedom of Speech as one of the fundamental foundations, an essential pre-requisite, for the maintenance of other wider freedoms and a healthy democracy in general;
  • There is no attempt to question why there is a gap of FOUR MONTHS between the publication in Denmark and the protests now, and no attempt to question the motives of the Danish Imam who has embellished the 12 cartoons actually published with a collection of other drawings, which are both unattributed and significantly more offensive. The Wikipedia article on this is illuminating:
    "Akhmad Akkari, spokesman of the 21 Danish Muslim organisations which organised the tour, explained that the three drawings had been added to "give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims." Akkari claimed he does not know the origin of the three pictures. He said they had been sent anonymously to Danish Muslims. However, when Ekstra Bladet asked if it could talk to these Muslims, Akkari refused to reveal their identity. These images had however never been published in Jyllands-Posten.

    The society also allegedly exaggerated its membership and the hardships of Muslims in Denmark, for instance claiming to represent 200,000 angry Muslims, when the actual number was in fact fewer than 15,000.

    Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen was shocked at the way in which some Muslims were misrepresenting Denmark. “I am speechless that those people, whom we have given the right to live in Denmark and where they freely have chosen to stay, are now touring Arab countries and inciting antipathy towards Denmark and the Danish people"
  • There is no appeal to reason: is it rational to beat up an employee of an unrelated Danish food distributor who had no hand in the publication of the cartoons? Is it rational - or helpful to the cause of Islam - to issue death threats against the cartoonists? Do these actions not - oh the irony - merely prove the point of the editors of JP?
We should be with the Danes on this one, not sitting on the fence. Free Speech is no Offence, nor is it negotiable.

Which is more offensive:
1. A newspaper publishing cartoons of Mohammed
2. Threatening to kill the publisher (and the cleaners in the building)
3. Beating up - that is causing actual bodily harm - someone completely unrelated to the publication of the cartoons?

This is not a tricky choice. Moreover, we are (rightly) forever warned not to stereotype - not to project the vices of a few fruitcakes onto the group as a whole. What, I ask you, is item 3 if not a prime example of this heinous sin? Yet we hear only condemnation of the first not the second or third.

Without this vociferous condemnation, it appears that the group as a whole agrees with its spokesmen. (And it is almost always men.) If most of the individuals within the group represented by a spokesman, self appointed or otherwise, disagree, why are they prepared to be misrepresented, especially when such misrepresentation is so obviously harmful? Why are there no more moderate spokesmen? There are two possibilities: either most condone options 2 and 3, or most are sufficiently repressed not to be able to voice their concerns.

We came VERY VERY close to making it illegal to print these cartoons. Indeed, it appears that it was a mere totting up error on the part of the Labour Chief Whip for which we must be eternally grateful (until the next time).

As for the cartoons themselves, I will post more in due course. For the time being, let us examine the substantive issue. There is much complaint that, for Muslims, it is forbidden to show any image of Mohammed, whether flattering or not. Permit me to disagree with that premise.

But even assuming that it is forbidden, I fail to see how this applies to non-Muslims.

But even assuming that it is forbidden, and by some arcane ruling it does apply to non-Muslims, it is still nonsense in this context.

Consider this one of the 12 in particular:

Is this actually a picture of Mohammed? If I say it is, that apparently becomes a crime to be punished by death threats or savage beatings. What if I secretly think it is, but say it isn't? What if I think it isn't, but say it is? Ironically, this is genuinely the case here: the non-Stick fellow is actually a caricature of the author who could not get anyone to illustrate his book on Mohammed.

I can think of no better illustration of a "thought-crime". We don't do thought-crime here. Not if we can help it anyway.

This whole episode would be farcical but for the death threats flying about.

It would be farcical but for the disgusting hypocrisy of the Muslim states that have withdrawn their ambassadors. The cry goes up that we must "respect" the religious beliefs of others. This is, to be blunt obscene.

Which would you rather be:
1. A Muslim trying to practise your religion in Denmark or any other post-Enlightment, pre-dominantly Christian, "Western" democracy
2. A Christian trying to practise your religion in Saudi Arabia or Iran
3. A Jew trying to practise your religion in Saudi Arabia or Iran, or in fact, anywhere in the Middle East outside Israel?

It would be farcical if it weren't for the fact that this venal Labour Government seems flippant in the manner with which it discards our fundamental liberties and rules with no apparent regard for its slim, almost non-existent, electoral mandate, the centuries of precedent over which our constitutional settlement has evolved and the millions upon millions who gave their lives to defend these liberties against the onslaught of many other totalitarian systems.

It would be farcical if it weren't for the fact that we are compelled, on threat of imprisonment, to pay the Licence Fee which funds these excerable apologists for the attacks on the cornerstone of our freedom and prosperity.

Right. I'm going for a bacon roll. With lots of butter. And I'll need a stiff drink with which to wash it down...

UPDATE: Welcome to readers from TopixNet. I meant to link to my little essay on Giving and Taking Offence, but failed to do so in the body of the post. It is especially aposite, given the reference to THE BACON ROLL.


The Gorse Fox said...

Amen said...

Very well said.

Lord spare us from the "professional" journalists.

It's the blogosphere which kept this story alive when the mianstream media didnt want to touch it.


Deogolwulf said...

A stirling expression of the matter, P-G, old chap.

Jago said...

yeah, this is brilliant, though you're a bit urban mythic on education below. I'm not a teacher but there are teachers in the family, and your bit about phonemes is bollocks.

lucien de la peste said...

To be fair to Auntie, PG, have you considered that this was a complete non-story until the Saudis raised it to deflect criticism for yet another hajj disaster?

Also, we understand the BBC broadcast some of the images last night.

Charles Martel said...

even Ireland has joined in - the tabloid Daily Star has published one of the cartoons today.