Mohammed in Denmark

Danish cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed have infuriated Muslims everywhere. Who can blame them? Merely depicting the prophet violates Islamic rules. Ridicule is doubly offensive.
What is saddening is the destruction of Danish embassies and other acts of violence. Here, Arabian and Western cultures clash. To these Muslims, a bigoted opinion about their religion apparently justifies violence, while most Westerners think you can insult people because free speech lets you.
Neither viewpoint is particularly friendly or tolerant. But let's instead see where each viewpoint leads.
Take "insult justifies violence" to the extreme and we'll soon all be killing each other. After all, how offensive is offensive, and how violent can one be in response? I'm sure everyone on this planet knows of another person who deeply offends them in some way or another (Barbra Streisand springs to mind for me). This means that the resulting violence would be equally random.
So what of "free speech justifies offensiveness"? Well, there is some hypocrisy here. In my country, offending the queen is a crime (crazy but true). And other views, such as denying the holocaust, are legally OK but culturally taboo. Taken to the extreme, both these things should be permitted. Next, you might argue that this makes a society morally bankrupt and turns it into a never-ending shouting match. Maybe so. But here's the thing: the end result is a status quo, in which everyone is equal. That's why I think Muslims are better off ignoring the insane rantings of a few Scandinavians, or better yet, loudly voicing their opinion.

Posted by cronopio at 02:19 PM, February 09, 2006