Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Muhammad Cartoons, Daniel Pipes - 5 Short Comments

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I keep reading about these Muhammad cartoons. Daniel Pipes wrote an interesting column on Islamic Imperialism. He notes we can't bend our society and freedom to Islam, and Islam's idea of turning the world into Dar-al-Islam, or the House of Islam. I agree with him there, but he riled me by suggesting "nivellement par le bas." Here are my thoughts on the issue.
  1. Insofar as Muhammad can be interpreted as representative of all Muslims, caricaturing him as a terrorist incites hatred of Muslims. For this reason, I oppose the publication of the cartoons. Freedom of speech is limited by respect for the rights and freedoms of others.
  2. Insofar as reaction to the cartoons is not that Muslims were generalized and stereotypes about, but rather that Muhammad was insulted, the cartoons are in bad taste.
  3. With respect to freedom of the press, I keep reading that Muslims will not impose their taboos and thoughts on our press. I wholeheartedly agree. Islam can be criticized. Muhammad can be represented, regardless of whether or not Islam allows this. Hindus aren't told they can't worship many gods just because monotheistic religions oppose the concept.
  4. Others have discussed the hypocrisy of the Arab-Muslim world. In denouncing these cartoons, but not the slander and libel regularly published in the Arab-Muslim world's newspapers and schoolbooks - which go far beyond stereotyping and incite to hatred and genocide of Jews, Israelis, and the West - the Arab-Muslim world once again shows it has no credibility in matters of free speech.
  5. Most importantly, I condemn absolutely the "nivellement par le bas," as we say in French, which has been suggested as a response to Muslim hypocrisy on free speech. "Nivellement par le bas" roughly translates to making everyone equal by making everyone mediocre. I'm referring to the suggestion made by commentator Daniel Pipes and by others that we should balance out the stupidities and racism published in Muslim newspapers and texts by protecting our "right to insult" each other. Since when do we a) have the "right" to insult each other? and b) did we get rid of the right to having an upstanding reputation unsullied by libellous and idiotic comments? This wasn't an argument for freedom of the press as much as an argument favouring limitless liberties for fools.
Of related interest in this Muhammad cartoon 'scandal' is that Muhammad can be depicted.

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