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February 08, 2007

Comments

I finally saw the Mohammed episode of South Park the other night, and what's interesting about it is that it was deliberately developed to be a controlled experiment about what is allowed and what isn't.

Not Allowed: Depiction of Mohammed giving a man a hat.
Allowed: Jesus taking a crap on George Bush on the American flag.*

I'm sorry, people who are arguing that Islam is not being treated any differently in critical or satiric discourse are just flat out wrong. Spending years in predominantly secular circles, where Christianity is freely and routinely criticized in the harshest possible terms, similar conversations about Islam are considered completely inappropriate.

*To be perfectly fair, the other controversal episode with the Virgin Mary was broadcast, pulled, then eventually rebroadcast.

Could it possibly be that the gospels are all forgeries?

The question was about accuracy, and I think it's pretty silly to hold one book up over the other in that regards when both were written significantly after the fact about events not witnessed by the authors.

Define "originally written." And "in the Bible today."

There had to have been that first copy, right? Given the early Church's penchant for editing, and the inherent problems of accuracy of simply translating a document from one language to another, I don't see how anyone today can feel comfortable they are reading text that conveys what the original authors intended.

"Is this an inelegant way of admitting that there are no real facts to back your position? This sounds like you're recasting it as a difference of opinion where no facts can reasonably intrude.
The fact is that there are certainly hundreds of cases of people in the US insulting Islam in the most direct and ugly ways possible without any professional or personal repercussions, let alone suffering any physical attacks."

This isn't a good use of statistical thinking. There are certainly thousands of cases of people all over the world insulting either Christianity or Islam with no ill-effect. That doesn't say word one about what your chances of suffering bodily injury for your insult are and whether or not they are higher when insulting one compared to the other.

If a US magazine were to run a contest to make insulting art about Jesus, there would certainly be outcry (there were indeed protests surrounding Serrano's exhibits) but there wouldn't be riots in multiple locations across the world over it (the protests surrounding Serrano's exhibits didn't end in burning buildings or threats of kidnapping).

The point I'm attempting to make is that yes both Marcotte's writing and the Danish cartoons married political message with deliberate insult--and that is acceptable free speech. Can free speech have ideological consequences? Are we allowed to think less of the speakers based on what they say? Of course. Should we force association with the speakers in order to facilitate the speech (force me to write on a blog with Marcotte or force me to subscribe to the magazine)? No. Would it be wise for a presidential candidate to hire the editor of Jyllands-Posten to oversee any part of a campaign? Probably not.

In short, you can defend Marcotte's speech as politically using outrageous, offensive and blasphemous comments for a point, but that is not a distinction between her speech and the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. That is precisely how they are the same.

And if you hire someone who thinks that using outrageous, offensive and blasphemous comments for a political point is the way to go about things, the offended people will associate you if those things. There is a difference between defending the right to speech and actively associating with those who say offensive things. (See for example why I don't post on RedState even though I still have the access codes.)

"There had to have been that first copy, right?"

No. The New Testament was created out of an array of materials, by a variety of people, and edited and reedited, and so on; there's a huge field of studies about both this and the origins of the Torah. There is no "original copy."

These being the words of Publius:

... how you can you demand that bush not associate himself with hannity ...
Who is demanding that Bush not associate himself with Hannity?

Then we had this from Limagolf:

The rest of you would sell your own grandmother, if it made you seem tolerant and progressive.
This, sir or madam, is just as wrong as the rest of the comment that preceded it - but it is particularly offensive in its lack of regard for anything except knocking down the straw liberals that you've erected in your head in order to avoid having to do any actual thinking about what those with whom you disagree might actually think or feel. How dare you?

I wish I could think of anything else to say in response to that which didn't involve multiple grievous violations of the posting rules.

And then Frankly0 asked this:

... what do you think would happen if a Republican Presidential candidate were to HIRE Rush Limbaugh, in any capacity, on their campaign?
Limbaugh's supporters might be forced to admit that he was acting as a propagandist for the GOP at last? You are hereby cordially invited to take your own advice regarding thinking of matters political.

forgery is an odd word choice. what is being fraudulently copied?

the better question is simply to ask what evidence exists which dates the various original documents which we now call the Bible (King James version, of course).

Well, it's pretty easily verifiable that there are source documents dating back to the third century AD. Puts at least parts of the New Testament rather chronologically closer to the time Mary was alive, if nothing else.

Prodigal: I had missed Limagolf's comment about selling our own grandmother, which is a plain violation of the posting rules.

As for OCSteve's hypothetical, we now have a test case:

"Everybody's favorite moral/ethical wastrel, the lamentable Christopher Hitchens, offers a mostly admiring review of Mark Steyn's new book, and provides us with an unusually revealing excerpt:
Why did Bosnia collapse into the worst slaughter in Europe since World War Two? In the thirty years before the meltdown, Bosnian Serbs had declined from 43 percent to 31 percent of the population, while Bosnian Muslims had increased from 26 percent to 44 percent. In a democratic age, you can't buck demography -- except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out -- as other Continentals will in the years ahead: if you can't outbreed the enemy, cull 'em. The problem that Europe faces is that Bosnia's demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.

I don't see how it's possible to interpret this excerpt -- given that Steyn is also contending that these demographics are inevitable throughout Europe, and he offers no solution that would accommodate or assimilate Muslims -- as anything other than outright advocacy of genocide and the Bosnian model of "ethnic cleansing" for the rest of Europe. Hitchens, rather typically, softens it by noting that Steyn is saying "that Serbo-fascist ethnic cleansing can appear more rational in retrospect than it did at the time.""

I don't see how not to read the quote as advocating killing European Muslims either. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens to Steyn as a result. I suspect not much.

Is this an inelegant way of admitting that there are no real facts to back your position? This sounds like you're recasting it as a difference of opinion where no facts can reasonably intrude.

What facts am I to use to prove a hypothetical? Hypothetical facts?

I provided an example of a newspaper explicitly stating they refused to publish out of fear for their staff’s safety.

I provided a couple of examples of people being fired and they were just kind of blown off. Part of the students' complaint against the professor was that “he had insulted them and their religion” (the article I linked says “summarily fired”, others say “summarily suspended”, but he has lost his insurance so suspended at this point doesn’t seem likely). As well as getting him fired/suspended: “The Muslim students also sent out an email to a large population at DePaul declaring a fatwa on Klocek for insulting Islam.” It seems pretty clear that their issue was his remarks on Islam. I pointed out Graham, you indicate the same thing would have happened if he said it about Christianity or Judaism. I disagree. He was fired for his remarks about Islam. But Rosie can equate ‘radical Christians’ with the 9/11 terrorists and she’s still on the tube.

I think there is room to argue about how prevalent this type of thing is, but you just pretty much blow off my points as “no real facts”. So why should I bother.

I’ll leave you with a thought experiment:
Take a large sign, put Amanda's worst comment on one side of it and my hypothetical comment on the other. Take the sign and go hang out in front of a Catholic church on Sunday morning. Then take it and hang out at a Mosque on Friday afternoon. Are you equally comfortable both places?

There is no "original copy."

I didn't say or intend to imply there was a single author of the "New Testament".

And yes I think there was a "first draft" for all the Gospels. If they were revised and edited on multiple occasions by mulitple parties after that, well, that was my point, wasn't it?

I didn't say or intend to imply there was a single author of the "New Testament".

That should include "and single first copy of the NT". I was talking about the individual books of the Bible.

you indicate the same thing would have happened if he said it about Christianity or Judaism

That was Gary - sorry.

I don't see how not to read the quote as advocating killing European Muslims either.

I do. You can read the paragraph as stating his belief in the inevitability of ethnic violence arising when demographics radically change in democracies, rather than advocacy of such actions.

Christopher Hitchens has many outlandish and over-the-top ideological vices, but I don't think advocacy of ethnic violence is one of them.

As for OCSteve's hypothetical, we now have a test case

Not exactly - my hypothetical involves a presidential candidate, and I think that the dynamics of a presidential race are an important component.

Steyn's been making outrageous claims for years - so I'll agree with your "not much".

Off-topic: Anna Nicole Smith is still dead.

"I provided an example of a newspaper explicitly stating they refused to publish out of fear for their staff’s safety."

Actually, you provided a link to someone (Jeff Jacoby) claiming they did; if you have a link to the full, unedited, actual editorial, please do post it.

"I provided a couple of examples of people being fired and they were just kind of blown off."

"Rebutted" is a more accurate description; feel free to argue with the points people made in response, if you wish to convince folks that these points were invalid.

I agree with Jonas Cord Jr.'s reading*, i.e., the violance that results from an inevitable demographic change is itself inevitable, and that's what's happening in Europe right.

"agree" meaning agree that you can read it as other than advocating ethinc violence.

"But Rosie can equate ‘radical Christians’ with the 9/11 terrorists and she’s still on the tube."

Steve, our government has done things to actual Muslims that are far, far, far worse than anything on South Park or what Rosie O'Donnell or Amanda Marcotte has done and remained in power, and in fact there's not been much public outcry about it, in part because the people they did it to were Muslims and we were collectively ready to assume that they were terrorists.

I also don't see successful pundits saying that internment camps for Muslims may be necessary (yes, I know Malkin hedges, but come on.) Or Jewish Congressman get asked on CNN whether voters can trust them to be loyal Americans based on their religion.

Mohammed gets treated a bit more carefully than Jesus or Moses or Mary these days in the media, but actual Muslim human beings are treated much less carefully than actual Christian human beings. And not just in the media.

OCSteve: The Muslim students also sent out an email to a large population at DePaul declaring a fatwa on Klocek for insulting Islam

Unless one of the students was a mufti - which seems unlikely - they could not possibly have "declared a fatwa" on Klocek. Were these students Sunni or Shi'ite Muslims? Who was named as the mufti who made the fatwa? What was the fatwa? This is formal legal judgement by an Islamic scholar on a university professor would undoubtedly have some record outside an e-mail sent by students.

It seems pretty clear that their issue was his remarks on Islam.

For the students, yes.

But the Dean says the issue was his abusive language to the students about their religion. Are you saying that your experience of American colleges is that lecturers never get into any difficulty if they swear at or abuse students about the students' religion? That, for example, a member of the Orange Lodge would be able to call Catholic students "papists" and taunt them about the child molestation scandals, perhaps implying that they as Catholics are implicated in child molestation, and expect to keep his job?

Just as the manager who fired Graham said that Graham had been in trouble before for "insensitive remarks". Has Rosie O'Donnell ever asserted that the US is at war with Catholicism, or that Catholicism is a terrorist organization?

But Rosie can equate ‘radical Christians’ with the 9/11 terrorists and she’s still on the tube.

Actually, I believe what Rosie O'Donnell said was: "Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country where we have separation of church and state." Unless you're thinking of some other comment where she said that "radical Christians" (like those who bomb clinics and kill doctors in pursuit of their religious goals) are no better than "radical Muslims" (who also bomb and kill in pursuit of their religious goals). You can disagree with that: you can argue that Christian terrorists are not the same as Muslim terrorists: but it is not nearly as offensive - or as untrue - as saying that Islam is a terrorist organization, or that the US is at war with Islam.

I can't agree with an alternative reading. First of all the use of the word "enemy" is rather obvious. And I don't know how to see the phrase "cull 'em" as anything other than a call to violence against the "enemy."

To me, it is rather obvious who the enemy is in this reading.

OCSteve: Take a large sign, put Amanda's worst comment on one side of it and my hypothetical comment on the other. Take the sign and go hang out in front of a Catholic church on Sunday morning. Then take it and hang out at a Mosque on Friday afternoon. Are you equally comfortable both places?

If you make that "equally uncomfortable", yes. Deliberately setting out to be pointlessly offensive to people on their way into worship would make me feel very uncomfortable. I would feel less physically unsafe (and therefore probably more uncomfortable) doing it by near a mosque, since where I live, Muslims are a minority group, frequently subject to violent attacks (two of the mosques in my city have been firebombed within the past five years) and I would expect the Muslims entering the mosque to protest by calling the police or by asking me to leave. Whereas the Catholics are not a minority, and while they might just call the police, they might equally decide to beat me up.

"Off-topic: Anna Nicole Smith is still dead."

So is Generalissimo Franco. Guess which death likely has a larger effect on the world now (my vote is for the one dead more than a day).

It's not clear to me that we can really fairly compare the reception of anti-Christian and anti-Muslim sentiments unless we're willing to equalize circumstances some. Maybe if we were also at war with randomly selected Christian nations, referred from time to time to our war as a jihad, had high-ranking officials and prominent voices in the public sphere talking about the fundamental vices of Christianity and the desirability of wiping it all out, abducted and tortured random bystanders who happened to "look Christian", subjected random Christians to being yanked off planes and interrogated because they were carrying copies of the Book of Common Prayer, and studiously avoided all serious discussion of the body count racked up in our war against this week's designated enemy Christian nations, then we might have a more useful context.

All of which is to say that I agree with those who say that some - maybe a lot - of the Muslim violence against (from my point of view) stupid and banal cartoons is accumulated rage and frustration grabbing the nearest convenient outlet. That happens. In American history, the burning of the Gaspee and the Stamp Act riots come immediately to mind. And the Stonewall rioting, come to that - it wasn't that the police there were doing anything they hadn't done countless times before, it was just one damn thing too much. This is not to excuse the violence, and indeed I think its instigators ought to be up on damn serious charges, most particularly the ones using fraudulent misrepresentations alongside the real things in their rabble-rousing exhibits. I would like to think that if I were in the rioters' position, I'd be among the vast Muslim majority that isn't rioting. But it does seem to me counterproductive to try talking about this as if Muslims of the world don't have anything else on their minds, like the world's superpower on a berserk rampage against them.

as a datapoint for OCSteve's hypothetical, this guy protests outside the vatican embassy pretty much every weekend (and has since 1998), he says he's been subject to "insults, death threats, rude gestures, spitting, even egging and more".

DTM: Guess which death likely has a larger effect on the world now (my vote is for the one dead more than a day).

One couldn't tell from the media coverage, unfortunately.

I'm sorry, people who are arguing that Islam is not being treated any differently in critical or satiric discourse are just flat out wrong. Spending years in predominantly secular circles, where Christianity is freely and routinely criticized in the harshest possible terms, similar conversations about Islam are considered completely inappropriate.

So, if someone in your circles said that Christianity was a terrorist organization run by Satan, the response would be "duh", but if a similar thing were said about Islam, the response would be "die, Infidel!"?

If so, I humbly suggest that you try moving in different circles.
And, regardless of whether or not you take that suggestion, I add that you ought not generalize from your particular circles to all of Western society, or even just the US.

Part of the students' complaint against the professor was that “he had insulted them and their religion”

Ten will get you twenty that right now, at this very moment, some educator (professor, TA, high school teacher, whatever) is getting admonished for "insulting [students'] religion" or, more generally, insulting their belief systems. Check out Horowitz' site some time, although I wouldn't recommend sticking around for too long.

John Miller,

I can't agree with an alternative reading. First of all the use of the word "enemy" is rather obvious. And I don't know how to see the phrase "cull 'em" as anything other than a call to violence against the "enemy."... To me, it is rather obvious who the enemy is in this reading.

That sentence is describing what he thought the Serbs had "figured out." Is there a reason why I should figure Hitchens endorses this that's not mind-reading?

If I say, "What the Nazis figured out - as others have previously and will in the future - that killing Jews is politically popular" - do you figure me a Fascist? Most will take me to be a pessimist, I think.

Carleton Wu,

So, if someone in your circles said that Christianity was a terrorist organization run by Satan, the response would be "duh", but if a similar thing were said about Islam, the response would be "die, Infidel!"?

You're being silly. If they have a bad sense of humor, the response might be a chuckle at the Christianity comment. At worst the response would be "you can't be serious," followed by a discussion. With Islam, the reaction would be at least a wince, if not a lecture about how inappropriate the comment was.

And, regardless of whether or not you take that suggestion, I add that you ought not generalize from your particular circles to all of Western society, or even just the US.

I'm not generalizing to all of Western society. I'm just saying in my experience, secular people are being completely unprincipled about this. I enjoy unfettered conversation about religion, and Islam is mostly out of bounds.

Jonas Cord: If they have a bad sense of humor, the response might be a chuckle at the Christianity comment. At worst the response would be "you can't be serious," followed by a discussion. With Islam, the reaction would be at least a wince, if not a lecture about how inappropriate the comment was.

Prior to WWII, in English fiction (you can check this for yourself in, for example, Dorothy L. Sayers) perfectly nice, decent writers saw no harm in a bit of anti-Semitic banter about how awful the Jews are or throwing a standard anti-Semitic stereotype of a Jew into a novel. Post WWII, with the discovery of the worst extremes of anti-Semitism, any anti-Semitism looked ugly and dangerous.

While individual Christian sects may have been persecuted or discriminated against (and anti-Catholicism was certainly rife in some parts) Christians have never been subject to discrimination or persecution as Christians in the US. Therefore, if you make a comment that Christianity is a terrorist organization run by Satan, it is unlikely to be taken as a signal that you believe that the US should invade all Christian countries, kill their leaders, and convert the population to worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whatever your particular brand of faith is.

Muslims in the US today have been accused of being traitors and terrorists by public figures: have been told that use of the Qu'ran to take oath undermines American civilisation: have been rounded up en masse and put in prison: have been deported: have been beaten up by bigots. Muslim staff on British Airways planes report that on arrival in the US they are quite literally persecuted by the local law enforcement - separated from the rest of the crew on arrival, interrogated for hours about their non-existant "connections" - to the extent that many are now refusing to fly transAtlantic flights, even though this means a pay cut. Add to this what Bush was calling a "crusade" on Islamic countries, and the presence of prison camps overseas where hundreds of Muslims have been kidnapped and imprisoned for years, even though many of them are known to be innocent. Under those circumstances, just as decent people felt uncomfortable about anti-Semitism after WWII, so may decent people feel uncomfortable about Islamophobia now.

"I enjoy unfettered conversation about religion, and Islam is mostly out of bounds."

What, someone will stop you from discussing Islam here?

I should have mentioned, of course, that the religion in question would be Christianity.

Note about my quote: the excerpt with 'cull them' is from Steyn's book as quoted by Hitchens; it's not by Hitchens.

What, someone will stop you from discussing Islam here?

Not really, I mean offline. But I'm guessing if I were to unapologetically attack an Islamic theology, there would be quite a storm.

Jesurgislac,

Therefore, if you make a comment that Christianity is a terrorist organization run by Satan, it is unlikely to be taken as a signal that you believe that the US should invade all Christian countries, kill their leaders, and convert the population to worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whatever your particular brand of faith is.

A similar comment about Islam might be taken by some (I'm guessing you) as a signal that they believe the US should invade all Islamic countries, kill their leaders, etc. There is no legitimate reason to think that in the context of my social life however, never mind the population at large.

Note about my quote: the excerpt with 'cull them' is from Steyn's book as quoted by Hitchens; it's not by Hitchens.

This is the sort of ridiculous error I make when I post from work...

I hope someone asks Steyn if that's what he meant.

Jonas: There is no legitimate reason to think that in the context of my social life however, never mind the population at large.

Yet the US has actually invaded two Islamic countries within the past five years, and is making noises about invading a third.

But I'm guessing if I were to unapologetically attack an Islamic theology, there would be quite a storm.

Well, certainly if you attacked in an ignorant way or a way that made clear you were ignorant of the subject you were arguing about. But, if you feel that it's fundamentally wrong to pray five times a day, or to fast during Ramadan, or to give charity, or to go on Hajj to Mecca, or to believe that there is only one God and that Muhammad was His last prophet, well, no apology necessary if you plan to attack any one or all of them, if you've got something interesting to say about why you do. Or was it some difference between Sunni and Shi'ia Islam that you wanted to attack, and if so, which?

OK – I give guys. My hypothetical would have come out exactly the same way as this situation did. My hypothetical offender would have gotten off with a pseudo apology and remained with the campaign. There is no more risk in insulting Islam than Christianity. Christians are just as intolerant of people insulting their religion.

I’m paranoid and delusional to look at what seems to be trends around the world and think it might be taking root here as well. There are no adherents of Islam trying to position themselves as a protected class. It’s all in my head.

I’ll just keep repeating that to myself and maybe it will sink in. Or maybe I'll just go have a beer or six.

Jesurgislac,

Yet the US has actually invaded two Islamic countries within the past five years, and is making noises about invading a third.

If you think this is because of Islamophobia, well, I've got nothing to say. Islamophobia in some quarters certainly made it easier to happen, but it's not the underlying cause by any means.

But, if you feel that it's fundamentally wrong to pray five times a day, or to fast during Ramadan, or to give charity, or to go on Hajj to Mecca, or to believe that there is only one God and that Muhammad was His last prophet, well, no apology necessary if you plan to attack any one or all of them, if you've got something interesting to say about why you do.

Of course I don't, because you can't possibly make a list of the least controversial aspects possible of the Islamic faith and expect that this would be what I or anyone else would be contesting.

OCSteve, do you think there's anything to my claim that it's easier to get away with insulting Christian theology but easier to get away with insulting Muslim people?

Jonas: Of course I don't, because you can't possibly make a list of the least controversial aspects possible of the Islamic faith and expect that this would be what I or anyone else would be contesting

Actually, those are the five pillars of Islam - those would be the most controversial if you intended to attack Islamic theology. Anything else, you would most likely find at least some Muslims in agreement.

OCSteve: I’m paranoid and delusional to look at what seems to be trends around the world and think it might be taking root here as well. There are no adherents of Islam trying to position themselves as a protected class. It’s all in my head.

And the odd thing is, I think you intend to be sarcastic. But if you can see any signs of adherants of Islam positioning themselves as a "protected class" in the US, you really need to show examples of this happening. Have a glass of wine.

Jesurgislac,

Actually, those are the five pillars of Islam - those would be the most controversial if you intended to attack Islamic theology.

The most controversial to Muslims, sure. They are the least controversal aspects of Islam to secular and tolerant Westerners, which is what I meant.

Anything else, you would most likely find at least some Muslims in agreement.

You're absolutely correct! Which is what, to my mind, is so incomprehensible about the silence about such issues in secular circles. That's all I'm saying.

Which is what, to my mind, is so incomprehensible about the silence about such issues in secular circles. That's all I'm saying.

Possibly, you come across as hostile and bigoted against Muslims when you raise issues of Islamic theology. Since I move in secular Western circles, and have certainly argued aspects of Islam and Muslim culture without getting hostility, hostile silence, or a storm.

You're being silly. If they have a bad sense of humor, the response might be a chuckle at the Christianity comment. At worst the response would be "you can't be serious," followed by a discussion. With Islam, the reaction would be at least a wince, if not a lecture about how inappropriate the comment was.

Well, I admit that the comparison is silly, but only bc the former statement(as you helpfully point out) is so far beyond the pale that your friends would have no choice but to construe it as humor. The latter statement is close enough to the mainstream that they might take you seriously- or at least recognize that someone else who didn't know you well might take you seriously.

If "we should deport all of the Muslims" is horrifying to your friends and "we should deport all of the Christians" is funny because of its distance from the cultural mainstream and fundamental implausibility, that indicates that the balance is tilted *against* Islam, not towards it. Just as "Im gonna kill you" is nonthreatening to a close friend in joking conversation, but may be a serious threat to someone you genuinely hate.

Katherine: do you think there's anything to my claim that it's easier to get away with insulting Christian theology but easier to get away with insulting Muslim people?

Sadly, I think you are most likely correct in this.

Jes: Friday evening cries out for beer. And with Katherine's observation it may now be up to 7.

OCSteve: I haven't really chimed in on this one. Part of the reason is just that we're talking about hypotheticals, which we can all imagine as we see fit, and we're basing what we say on a zillion different episodes, each of which has a zillion different intriguing details all its own, which undoubtedly struck us differently. I mean: any degree, however slight, of a tendency to remark on and remember episodes that confirm one''s own beliefs in some way would be bound to produce a disagreement rather like this one.

Plus, I think a lot turns on questions of relative power. I sometimes get the sense that to some parts of the right (I'm not thinking of you now), the left seems very powerful. (What with controlling the media, Hollywood, the entirety of the federal bureaucracy, and so on.) To us, the idea that we control the media makes us laugh, and meanwhile we note that until recently we were in the minority of all branches of government, while Republicans like Bush and his enablers in Congress were tearing up the Constitution etc. So possibly what different people think follows from e.g. an episode in which "the left" gets all up in arms about something varies: if you think the left is powerful, this might seem like a big threat; if not, you'd think: well, the opprobrium of the left, like the condemnation of the national association of professional ukelelists, doesn't seem likely to scare anyone. (And we laugh a hollow laugh.)

Which is all to say: I don't think this argument can really be resolved clearly, by adducing evidence. Different people get mad at different things, in different ways, and they have different amounts of power to back up their anger.

Which just leaves me thinking: I want to stick up for everyone who deserves it, and stand in the way of people who think that attacks alone will let them get their way. Which attacks are worst -- ?? Honestly, I don't know.

(also "easier to get away with attacking Christian theology" is actually only true in some contexts...plenty of places in this country where I'd wager that's not true.)

Hrm. I would think it relevant that in the wake of 9/11, Muslims were actually the target of hate crimes, and they continue to bear heightened surveillance (rightly or wrongly). That reinforces their "otherness" and naturally leads to demands for protection (and I thought religion actually IS a protected class).

"OCSteve: I haven't really chimed in on this one. Part of the reason is just that we're talking about hypotheticals, which we can all imagine as we see fit, and we're basing what we say on a zillion different episodes, each of which has a zillion different intriguing details all its own, which undoubtedly struck us differently. I mean: any degree, however slight, of a tendency to remark on and remember episodes that confirm one''s own beliefs in some way would be bound to produce a disagreement rather like this one."

I don't understand why we have to be hypothetical. To my knowledge, best selling authors attack Christianity in far worse than anything found in the "Satanic Verses", yet Salman Rushdie is the one who is under the death fatwa.

In fact, the Da Vinci Code, got made into a major motion picture without any Vatican death pronouncements. My fundamentalist Christian parents went to see it.

I’m paranoid and delusional to look at what seems to be trends around the world and think it might be taking root here as well.

There, Id just say unrealistic. We are not Saudi Arabia, nor are we France. Thinking that Muslims in America will behave more or less like Muslims in Iraq or the Netherlands or anywhere else is *exactly* the same error that makes you think that holding up a sign outside an American mosque is more dangerous than holding one up outside of a Catholic church. (btw, for your health, do not try your experiment in working-class Boston. You'll likely be safe in front of the mosque, but I wouldn't want to see how you fare in front of the church).

You would recognize this error if it were applied to groups of people you knew better. For example, when Islamic leaders compare US interventions in the ME to the Crusades it sounds bizarre to us. Or if someone told you never to reveal the fact that you'd had an abortion to a Christian bc they'd tear you limb from limb, you'd see that as silly exaggeration, or possibly offensively prejudicial.

I don't understand why we have to be hypothetical. To my knowledge, best selling authors attack Christianity in far worse than anything found in the "Satanic Verses", yet Salman Rushdie is the one who is under the death fatwa.

We're not comparing the religious tolerance found in Saudi Arabia/Iran/Afghanistan to the tolerance found in the US. Or, if we are, I don't know why we are since they're obviously dramatically different.
Comparing the things said in America about Islam (and the reaction/consequences) to the things said in America about Christianity (and the reactions/consequences) is the matter at hand, IMO.
[And, to my knowledge, best-selling authors in the US say much worse things about Islam than anything found in the Satanic Verses, and not only are they unfatwa-ed, they're still on the bestsellers list].

and not only are they unfatwa-ed

Heh, may we all remain unfatwa-ed.

Hilzoy: Part of the reason is just that we're talking about hypotheticals

Part of the reason is you wanted to torment me today so you stuck me on the front page. :) (kidding, feel free, I can take it.)

To us, the idea that we control the media makes us laugh

It makes us cry :(

The rest of your comment is spot on. (I think that’s British – I must have got there from “bloody”, which flowed naturally from vagina…)

OT: I don't know whether those of you who don't read FDL know that Donita Sparks, originally of L7, posts there about music. Today she has put up one of the alltime great videos, in the sense of "great" that means unbelievably kitschy, so much so that it achieves a form of campy immortality. It's here. Don't stop after a few verses, thinking the rest will be more of the same. You'll miss Thor blowing up a hot water bottle until it explodes.

Thinking that Muslims in America will behave more or less like Muslims in Iraq or the Netherlands or anywhere else is *exactly* the same error that makes you think that holding up a sign outside an American mosque is more dangerous than holding one up outside of a Catholic church.

Apart from the occasional nut our muslims are not behaving violent. We had a few small demonstrations after the cartoons, and a few flag burnings, no more. Yeay, Theo van Gogh got killed by a nutter, but he is now one of the 32 people in the Netherlands that are sentenced to life without parole.
Pim Fortuyn was a murder with much more impact yet his killer only got 20 years and nobody speaks about the danger of animal rights activists taking over. Yet they even have seats in parlement now, with their own political party...

Oh that last part was bad. I actually did not intend it to come out that way - it was just a reference to the other thread.

:)

that should be violently I think, and I don't know where that second y in yeah came from.

OCSteve: (I think that’s British – I must have got there from “bloody”, which flowed naturally from vagina…)

I can't decide if this is a poor or clever choice of words. But then, I got a chuckle out of "white, hot, sticky Holy Spirit".

Looks like I cross-posted with OCSteve.

OCSteve: when the, I dunno, Giuliani campaign decides to hire you as a blogger, I am so going to send that comment out to every media outlet I can think of.

And since we control them all...

lol

In fact, the Da Vinci Code, got made into a major motion picture without any Vatican death pronouncements. My fundamentalist Christian parents went to see it.

My impression is that the Da Vinci code plugs into a lot of impressions that fundamentalists Christians have about Catholicism, unless you are saying that your parents are fundamentalist Catholics. In fact, the most optimistic thing I could think of is that most Catholics and most Americans are completely oblivious to the historical level of anti-Catholic sentiment that gripped this country 150 or so years ago, to the point that when the Vatican sent marble blocks for the Washington Monument, they were taken and thrown into the Potomac because it was thought that they would send a secret signal to all of these hidden Catholics to force god fearing Protestants to acknowledge the Pope as the world's spiritual leader.

Paranoia: It's an American tradition

During Kerry's campaign, I read that he was the first practicing Catholic to be running for President since Kennedy in 1960, and that in 1960, there had been serious arguments about whether the US should have a Catholic for President since he would obviously owe first allegience to the Pope. (Which didn't seem to cross anyone's minds in 2004, even though the Pope then was publicly and firmly anti- the Iraq war and the death penalty.) Instead, lots of Republicans were arguing that the Catholic thing to do was vote for Bush, because Kerry was pro-choice...

Off topic Update: ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN and Foxnews (.com) all confirm: Anna Nicole Smith still dead.

Sometimes I really do think we deserve not to survive as nation.

I provided an example of a newspaper explicitly stating they refused to publish out of fear for their staff’s safety.

Just to be clear, a feeling of fear is not a solid indication that anyone is actually in danger. People tend to be pretty crappy at risk assessment -- ask anyone you know whether they're more afraid of being eaten by a shark or being hit by lightning. You stuff the news with constant self-reinforcing stories about how Muslims will riot at the drop of a hat, and, well . . .

In fact, the Da Vinci Code, got made into a major motion picture without any Vatican death pronouncements.

Yes, but . . .

"I thought the following: (1) the newspaper was just being pointlessly rude"

There is no such thing as pointless rudeness. Rudeness is like mother's milk to the publishing world. Polite newspapers are good for nothing but keeping the homeless warm. They all are, or soon will be, out of business.

The fact that you don't understand this explains why you are sitting smugly at home rather than lying dead in the street, a martyr for freedom of the press.

Just to muddy the waters, we might consider the number of people attacked verbally and physically for being atheist, pagan, or something else by people claiming to do so in the name Christ versus Christians subject to assault by non-Christians. The last I checked, attacks from professed Christians on others outnumber the others a lot.

As far as the mass media go, Steve, I wonder if it might be helpful to distinguish liberalism in the sense of any kind of moderately coherent worldview - the sort you might get from Hilzoy, or Katherine, or Amanda Marcotte, to take three people who do all have actual worldviews - from the sort of sleazy pursuit of envisioned lowest common denominators that seems the stock in trade of Hollywood most of the time. Did you ever see Robert Altman's movie The Player? If not, I recommend it; friends in film tell me it's a devastatingly accurate generalization. And the thing is, it's not a liberal culture. It's barely a culture at all. It's a bunch of dominance displays and grasping. It's a never-ending spiral of efforts at crowd control and manipulation, and it is as hostile to my values and Hilzoy's as it is to yours. To the extent that anything any of us - "us" including you as a sensible person with a worldview here - appears, it is usually because someone thought there was a buck in it, and not necessarily our bucks at that.

Hollywood didn't create its fantasies of suburbia in the '50s for moral reasons, but to make a buck. Executives then supported that effort by pandering to others' desire to be told that they were seeing works made with moral intent. Now they see other opportunities. But none of it's about anything except a kind of commercialism that even most libertarians would rather temper with an ethic of some sort.

And what about the reaction to Corpus Christi?

"My impression is that the Da Vinci code plugs into a lot of impressions that fundamentalists Christians have about Catholicism"

SPOILER WARNING IF YOU SOMEHOW BOTH DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW BUT MIGHT CARE:

The Mary as the wife of Jesus thing and the supression of that fact to destroy the mystical power of the feminine motivation works just as well against both major forms of Christianity.

Oops. Fix links, repeat comment.
--
And what about the reaction to The Last Temptation of Christ? Or Corpus Christi?

The Mary as the wife of Jesus thing...

Now that WOULD be a scandal. I think you mean Mary Magdalene, though.

Elie Wiesel assaulted.

Sebastian, your point seemed to be that your fundamentalist parents weren't prevented from seeing a bad movie and this was proof that no one stood up against the anti Catholic bashing of Hollywood. My point is that there is a lot of ridiculing of various aspects of Christian sects/faiths, making this claim of Amanda insulting the Church is just outrage mongering. I hope you would agree, but with you, I really can't be sure.

Slightly related to this is Tucker Carlson's latest dip into the waters of religious analysis

One important point might be that the book and movie don't have a hateful tone (I assume).

However, some people weren't happy about the portrayal of albinos

"One important point might be that the book and movie don't have a hateful tone (I assume)."

Why is that important? Satanic Verses didn't have a hateful tone either. It is Rushdie who is under the death fatwa, not Brown. And that is my point. Balsphemy against Islam gets you a death fatwa. Blasphemy against Christianity gets you a motion picture deal with Tom Hanks.

"Balsphemy against Islam gets you a death fatwa. Blasphemy against Christianity gets you a motion picture deal with Tom Hanks."

Is it possibly due to the fact that you're using passive voice, and switching subjects and objects?

It's a classic way to bait-and-switch.

That makes for an easy start to confusing the discussion.

Congrats on a fine use of passive voice. Too bad this isn't Unfogged, where Ogged could declare "use of passive voice is banned!"

I was referring to the other controversy - maybe I lost the thread of the conversation.

"Blasphemy against Christianity gets you a motion picture deal with Tom Hanks." Well, it's more that a mild humanizing-of-Jesus mega-bestseller gets one such a picture. And that offending the fundamentalist leaders of Iran got one such a fatwa, since revoked by them.

"passive voice"

Really? If so I'm forgetting my English grammar. The other day in the New Yorker I read, "a nephew of Sigmund Freud's" - do we use the genitive that way?

That is sometimes referred to as the 'get passive', though traditionally, that isn't a passive. Here's a good post from Language Log about some of the ins and outs, by Arnold Zwicky.

It is often grouped in a category named the Adversative passive, because the implication is often that something bad happens to the recipient. Because Japanese has this in a form where the subject is omitted, so that the literal meaning would be 'The bag, it was stolen', and Japanese students are told that English sentences demand a subject, they write 'I was stolen my bag!' which still gives me a little chuckle, though not as much as the distinction between 'interested' and 'interesting', which, when applied to 'boring' and 'bored', gets you sentences 'I fell asleep in class, because I was boring'...

lj - fascinating, thanks. What about that genitive above? I say, "A nephew of X" with X not genitive for X not a pronoun. Also, why can't I say "The nephew of mine"?

Sebastian Holsclaw: Balsphemy against Islam gets you a death fatwa. Blasphemy against Christianity gets you a motion picture deal with Tom Hanks.

Sure, but it gets you Ron Howard for a director, so it's not like it doesn't have its downsides. Anyway, if you're puzzled as to why American film audiences are more interested in Eurocentric thrillers involving instantly-recognizable art and murderous albino monks than in a magical realist re-imagining of the life of Mohammed, then I can understand your confusion.

"Sure, but it gets you Ron Howard for a director, so it's not like it doesn't have its downsides."

Apollo 13 is, IMO, a great movie.

I wouldn't go so far as great, but it is the one Ron Howard movie I've seen that I would call quite good. However, in general, I find him to be a lackluster director.

LJ, that wasn't the GET-passive, or any kind of passive for that matter. The GET-passive would be something like "If you blaspheme against Islam, you get fatwa-ed; if you blaspheme against Christianity, you get rewarded with a movie deal." There aren't even any past participles in Sebastian's sentences.

However, "That nephew of mine" is English.

KCinDC - check out lj's link, which snoots on "past participle".

I did check out the link (and I read it when it first came out). It says something about the term "past participle", but not about the construction itself, which appears in the examples of GET-passive. Where do you see any examples anything like Sebastian's sentences?

What verb is supposedly passive in those sentences? There is no verb form in them other than "gets".

Was just pointing to something that amused me. I thought those sentences are active, but I'm now not sure - I'm also still working on understanding the article. "Having done X gets you Y" - seems like a reversal to me.

7a?

This seems like a more relevant Language Log post. I think Gary just made a very un-Gary-like mistake. Maybe he was tired.

I'm not sure what similarity you see with 7a, which has a past participle, "attacked". And I don't see the reversal you're talking about. What would the equivalent unreversed sentence be?

This seems like a more relevant Language Log post. I think Gary just made a very un-Gary-like mistake. Maybe he was tired.

I'm not sure what similarity you see with 7a, which has a past participle, "attacked". And I don't see the reversal you're talking about. What would the equivalent unreversed sentence be?

Ok, having discussed the issue with Mrs. R, I now think:

"Smeagol got a birthday present" = "Smeagol was given a birthday present", morally speaking. The former is formally active, I think, the latter obviously passive, "Smeagol" functioning as an indirect object. The sentence in question is equal in that sense to "If you commit blasphemy, you will get a fatwa issued against you", with "issued" being passive and "you" the IO. That is, the phrase means "a fatwa will be issued against you", which is clearly passive. Thus I think the implied sentence is passive, morally speaking.

I also have the sense that writing "Blasphemy" for (loosely) "You commit blasphemy" is somewhat passive - that was my 7a guess - but I think the above takes priority.

I'll take a look at your other link.

The whole GET passive thing is really interesting and will be the subject of TiO post tonite (I hope). Just a quick taste, our notions of passive and active are semantic notions that we map onto syntactic patterns. That the semantic does not always conform to the syntactic is the problem. However, I note for the record that every single one of the Language Log crew is a better linguist than I could ever hope to be, so read them first ;^) However, I'll leave y'all with a few sentences to say if they are passive or not, with your reasons why

I stand amazed.
I got married.
I got three bagels yesterday.
I got tattoed by someone after I passed out last night.
I got wasted


"I stand amazed." Active, but really something different - an equation, maybe.

"I got married." Half-and-half - it's something I did and something that happened to me.

"I got three bagels yesterday." Plain active, and I shudder to think what that means in Japan.

"I got tattoed by someone after I passed out last night." Plain passive - "I was xed".

"I got wasted." Plain active - "I xed".

Reading all this, I sit astounded.

Wow, the grammar flame exploded! It has been said that Gary starts those from time to time.

And contra-Gary I don't think anyone (except maybe him) was the least bit confused by my statement.

"And that offending the fundamentalist leaders of Iran got one such a fatwa, since revoked by them."

Revoked to get diplomatic relations with the UK, but reinstated by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2005.

This apparently didn't post so I'm reconstructing a post that may be a little past the use-by...

Jonas: I enjoy unfettered conversation about religion, and Islam is mostly out of bounds.

I'm not saying that this applies to you, Jonas, but IME "unfettered conversation" by Anglophones about non-European religions is almost always code for Orientalism and/or Eurocentrism. [The same is true for Americans on pretty much any non-European subject, actually, and possibly a still-wider version of the thesis could be formulated.] I'm not saying that one can't criticize such belief systems without coming across as an ignorant boor -- and I'm including myself in this category -- it's just that it's awfully hard not to without some kind of fetters.

And that is my point. Balsphemy against Islam gets you a death fatwa. Blasphemy against Christianity gets you a motion picture deal with Tom Hanks.

I am reasonably certain that, as general rules, neither of these things is true; but if you believe otherwise, feel free to make your case.

And that is my point. Balsphemy against Islam gets you a death fatwa. Blasphemy against Christianity gets you a motion picture deal with Tom Hanks.

Will the strawman of comparing religious freedom in America to religious freedom in the Middle East please die a quick, painless death? The matter at hand is clearly whether Amanda's statements would've been more or less accepted/dangerous/whatever had they been about Muslims (or protestant fundamentalists).
And constantly bringing up Rushdie as if his consequences were typical for Westerners blaspheming Islam is about as accurate as claiming that abortion doctor-assassins are representative of American Christianity.

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