The story of the satirical pictures of the Prophet Muhammed published by Jyllands-Posten just refuses to die away. I first posted an article about this on 12 November 2005, followed by another on 9 December 2005, indirectly on 10 December 2005 and finally on 23 December 2005 [with a picture of the cartoons].
Usually, a week or so after an article has appeared on Samizdata.net and fallen off the front page, comments pretty much drop to zero 99% of the time. Yet there has been a steady trickle of comments still coming in, presumably via Google hits.
For the most part what is so interesting is what a complete non-meeting of minds these comments represent and they fall into three broad categories:
- Muslims who simply cannot conceive of tolerating people disrespecting their beliefs. Many seem to claim that disrespecting Muhammed is not ‘free speech’ at all (in which case quite what they mean by the words “free speech” is unclear)
- People who just loath Muslims and like the cartoons for no other reason than it upsets them
- People who understand that free speech means tolerating others saying things you do not agree with and which may upset you
Not being a religious person myself, I find it particularly baffling that so many comments by earnest Muslims start with flowery religious language and go on to make religious statements, as if that was going to convince what must obviously be an audience of very secular non-Muslim blog readers.
I like to think that if I went to a Muslim site and left a comment, I would at least make some attempt to phrase my remarks in language that at least tried to address the manifest axioms of the readers, even if I intended to challenge those axioms.
Yet to all intent and purposes, this might as well be a ‘dialogue’ between different species. It really does seem to be a dialogue of the deaf. The internet is awash with anti-Christian images, or ones that make profane use of Christian imagery that many would find offensive and yet do you see many vocal Christians getting so bent out of shape about it that they call for temporal ‘punishment’ for the people expressing those views? No. Most have the maturity to just say “Oh, another one of those daft atheists/agnostics” and keep moving, not accepting what they see but tolerating its expression just as most atheists generally tolerate expressions of religion they may find offensive (provided they are not being asked to pay for it) without actually accepting there is any truth to them. But what is it about the Muslim psyche that makes the contempt of others who do not share their beliefs so intolerable?
By the way, here is a better link to the ‘satanic cartoons’ so you can see what all the fuss is about.