Cartoons ignite cultural combat in Denmark - Europe - International Herald Tribune
*The true meaning of irony*
Read the article, it's really good and provides an objective view of the highly complex situation that is brewing here.
What else would you call a situation whereby the self same laws that allow for the publication of a (technically) blasphemous cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, also allows for the operation of Hizb ut-Tahrir, or the Party of Liberation, which preaches its ideology of the creation of an Islamic caliphate and the unification of all muslim countries under one leader who would then implement the Sharia?
I personally find this the biggest problem facing modern secular liberal democracies today i.e. the issue of tolerance creating the very form of intolerance that would wish to tear it down. How does one, deal with such intolerance without instituting another form of intolerance.
Now our very own sunny island has seen the used of the Sedition Act used against certain bloggers expounding racist (or was that religiousist? Did we conflate the two?) sentiments. And I suppose that that is one manner in which pluralism can be maintained, which is to crack down on intolerance, albeit only published ones. But coupled with a strong dose of edification through education, it may be that this represents a sensible hollistic policy.
But the self-same example also demonstrates the inherent weakness of this policy. Intolerance towards intolerance is only unto certain strains of intolerance i.e. the intolerance that the state deems intolerable. So religious bashing is not alright, but homosexual bashing is perfectly fine because they are not deemed to have protection under this particular law.
It also creates a particular insidious form of discrimination in that it protects those with beliefs but not those without. So it would seem perfectly fine to go around calling atheists as godless and immoral but not perhaps religion as irrational beliefs which should be consigned to historical ignorance and superstitions. Or at the very least it will have such a chilling effect. Not unlike perhaps post A*Star incident.
I personally believe that no belief system should be entitled to protection insofar as it represents a personal choice. One may not legitimately choose his race but one may definately decide to determine his form of faith or lack thereof. I think that any attack on something that is predetermined is inevitable irrational and perhaps ought not to be granted protection.
But where a choice can be made as to identity, then offensiveness I think is not sufficient because of the fundamental right of expression which would mean defending a particular viewpoint of opinion and by extension must necessary mean the attacking of another. This of course, does not mean carte blanc to go about inciting others, but unless the propensity (as opposed to mere potential) for violence is not met, then mere insult is not sufficient (not unlike defamation laws perhaps as there must be injury to reputation).
Of course, as close friends would know, I have oft times described myself in the apparent oxymoronic terms of being an extremist moderate. But what this of course means is that I would be glad (when in those moods) to shut off all forms of intolerance and only allow moderates. Think about it.