“How far do we go toward accommodating religious sensitivities in a pluralistic society?” – Eric Olsen, cartoon-controversy roundup
This question underscores a huge problem with respect to how the Mohammed-caricature controversy is often being cast. What I say below should not be taken as a response to anything Eric has written, but as a response to certain rationales and characterizations I see popping up again and again in this debate, and not just at blogcritics.org.
What religious sensitivities are we talking about? Is it really a huge dilemma whether to accommodate the thuggishness of thugs, so long as they scrupulously tap the most politically-correct or religiously-correct mantras? Apparently the answer is yes, because in the West we seem to keep suffering this same “dilemma” over and over.
I don’t quite know what a “pluralistic” society is. Is that a society with more than ten people? I want a society in which all persons who disagree with others, even vehemently, retain all their rights; and in which any person who willfully violates the rights of others to go about their peaceful business unmolested is subject to the sanctions of law. That kind of rights-respecting society is in my interest and in the interest of every other reasonable person. It would naturally engender a heterogeneity of culture and viewpoint. Pluralism thus defined is a natural effect and feature of a free society, but does not constitute the core of what makes a free society possible. In a free society, there is no pluralism about whether you can hit somebody over the head and grab his wallet. It’s banned outright.
Respect. Common courtesy. Civility. Sure. Let’s have them. Since when, though, do civilized persons require being threatened with death in order to exercise the virtue of civility? But being civil does not mean never uttering a disagreeable word, nor being snivelingly “sensitive” about every surly twitch and mutter of the avowed enemies of freedom and civilization. (And when is somebody going to explain how threatening to decapitate those who disagree with you exemplifies the virtues of either civility of “sensitivity”?)
True, most Muslims, it should not be necessary to stress, are not vicious killers; only a tiny minority. Also true, not all Muslims are foes of freedom of speech; what exactly the ratio of free-speech-supporting to free-speech-opposing Muslims might be I don’t know. But reasonable persons of all creeds have every reason to be civil toward others in the ordinary course of the day (and even if something in their creed might be interpreted, or misinterpreted, as a blanket warrant for infidel-killing). And such persons have no reason to repress or threaten or kill others who deal with them peaceably in turn, no matter how offensive the articulated views of those others may be in fact or in imagination.
Another person’s desire to gag or murder me for saying something he dislikes represents the one kind of act that cannot be accommodated in a free society, if it is to remain free. Killers may be very sensitive people. Let’s grant that. But I just don’t care how sensitive a killer is to criticism about his desire to smash my skull in. Nor should I. I mean, in that case, screw it. Let’s offend. Especially if you’re a cop who happens to be passing by at the time. Don’t be so sensitive, officer. No really, shoot the guy now, cry about it later.
The MoHo-cartoon debate obliges us to choose between surrender and resistance. Do we in the West who value our lives and liberty simply hand them over to the Islamo-fascist thug-droids on a silver platter, taking pains all the while to babble furiously about how horrible the cartoons are and how “Gee, I can understand why you want to behead cartoonists and such”? Or, do we actively oppose these killers and their collaborators and the flimsy blood-soaked rationalizations with which they attempt to veil the countenance of their evil…and actively defend our own life-serving values?
At least a couple bloggers in this part of cyber-town are upset because the cartoons were reprinted by anybody, whether in support of the Danes, freedom of speech, or the truth about the connection between Islamo-fascist ideas and the ensuing Islamo-fascist murders. Never mind the Marxo-idiotic jibber-jabber about globalist-capitalist conspiracies that some of these scribblers are spouting. What it comes down to is that surrender, in their view, is the only option, if we’re to be, you know, sensitive.
I’m not that sensitive. Or rather, I am sensitive. Which is to say that I’m very offended, for example, by the scum-monkey newspaper editors who have suddenly discovered vast reservoirs of hitherto untapped “sensitivity.” I’m equally offended by the scum-monkey publisher of a New York paper, the New York Press, who prohibited his editors from publishing the caricatures. I’m not offended by the editors who then resigned in protest. Good for them.
If the allegedly journalistically-objective newspapers declining to publish the images that the squabble is all about had announced that their refusal has to do with fear of blowback, such a course would have been at least semi-honorable. It would have been honest, at least. It would have given their readers an important clue about the nature of what’s happening.
“How far do we go toward accommodating religious sensitivities in a pluralistic society?” We go as far as we go toward accommodating any sensitivity of any kind. We protect everyone’s rights, equally, to the extent humanly possible. No society protects individual rights perfectly. But each must try, lest it devolve into the kind of anti-society in which the strongest habitually stomp everybody else, with only a few stray and rapidly incarcerated or killed courageous ones ever daring to protest.
Maybe some manifestations of pluralism do accommodate thugs and tyrants. Free men and women, however, do not accommodate thugs and tyrants. Not if they plan to remain free.
No, I have no great interest in delicately persuading an Islamo-thug to stop coming at me with his sword. Sure, maybe I could sensitively ask the guy to be a little more sensitive toward me in light of how I would prefer to continue living and everything. Perhaps he would then pause and reflect and say, “You know, you’re right, here I am demanding sensitivity, and by gum … I’m not being all that sensitive … oy vey, Allah!” But the chances are low.
See, the “sensitivity” game can be played into infinity. The only place where folks never rub each other the wrong way is a graveyard. Well, we will all get there soon enough. No need to rush.
David M. Brown is the publisher of TheWebzine.com, which has published articles by Robert Ringer, Petrarch, Bill Roggio, Robert Bidinotto, Eric Dixon, Robert Hessen, Michael Masterson, Erika Holzer, Andy Hertzfeld, Claire Wolfe, Barbara Branden, Montaigne, Bill Quick, and others.