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This story just came to my attention, I don't know if it's been covered here before now:

 

http://www.seattleweekly.com/2010-09-15/news/on-the-advice-of-the-f...

 

Very little seems to create outrage among writers and artists in this country. The apathy is killing. What about this incident? Can a creative person so easily be silenced? When something is wrong-- when a group of people or even a religion are out of line-- why are so many afraid to state the case as it is? Just my two cents worth.

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There are a million things in this cruel, messed up, insane world to protest against and try to remedy. Why is this one any more important than any other?

How long have radical intolerant Muslims been issuing fatwahs against artists, writers and cartoonists whom they deem have insulted their religion? 15, 20 years? More? The earliest I remember is Salmon Rushdie. One recent one has been Deepak Choprah. Then there was somebody in Amsterdam who's name I never bothered much to remember. What do they expect, with the last 20 years of Western-Islamic Kulturkampf raging?

What do you think of the preacher in Florida a month or so ago who threatened to have a scheduled Koran burning? Was he bigot? If so, why is his "intolerance" less acceptable than artists like Ms. Norris? Why is it not okay for Christians, cultural conservatives, homophobes and racists to make insulting jokes about gay people and racial and ethnic minorites, but it seems to be okay for feminists and leftists to denigrate Christians, Catholics and Muslims. I'm sure the latter have an elaborate explanation of why the latter is okay---but I think it's typically convoluted and self-serving.

We all snark off now and then. My targets tend to be conservatives, Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, leftists, New Agers, and old people. Maybe I'm more of a "bigot" than I'd like to admit. Maybe we all are. Maybe we ought to face that more honestly.

Even though I'm guilty of snarking off and insensitivity, I do try to restrain myself most of the time, and at least keep it private. The kind of "free expression" that Ms. Norris engaged in is a double-edged sword, I guess. Yeah, oppressors need to be told off once in a while. But is this the way to do it? Isn't it kind of peurile? Also, is it wise to throw gasoline on a raging fire? If you do that, I'm afraid I'd have to say, don't come cryin' to me if you get immolated.

Why the "apathy"? Seems to me everbody's been pretty much "outraged out".
Man, how readily you're willing to throw over our right to free expression and free speech. There's a crucial difference between insulted gays, Christians, the Florida pastor, et.al., and the Islamists who issued a fatwa against cartoonist Molly Norris. Being insulted doesn't give you the right to kill. It's instead called living in a free society. Being offended comes with freedom. This is what writers-- zinesters most of all-- should be concerned with. Zinedom, in the twenty years I've been involved in it, has been about pushing the envelope of free speech. Throw that out and you've removed the necessary pillar to the edifice. Outraged out? What does that mean? I've seen zinesters in the last few years unwilling to take a real-world stand over anything. Outraged out in yr own head, maybe, but nobody any longer is willing to protest much of anything. (The saddest thing about the anti-war protests over the last seven years, for instance, is how they were dominated by the gray-haired set; old hippies. Comical, I guess. Look at those silly folks! From the other side we now have the tea partiers-- more oldsters. Those raised on the internet seem incapable of acting in the analog world; as even a recent article in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell argued.)
Why should the people here care about Molly Norris? Because she's ONE OF US. She's not superrich novelist Salman Rushdie. She's a struggling cartoonist who believed in pushing the envelope.
I'm disgusted.
Bye.
And I'm disgusted by your rampant Islamophobia. But I guess you're not talking about the good ones, right? D:
I don't see anything islamophobic about being disgusted by religious extremism, Erica.

Erica S. said:
And I'm disgusted by your rampant Islamophobia. But I guess you're not talking about the good ones, right? D:
In his first post, he implicated the religion. Not the extremists. And then later implied that all followers of Islam are issuing fatwas.

I mean, I care about this, I don't think it's right that she feels she has to go undercover for her own safety, in a perfect world nobody should have to do that. But I honestly don't see what the difference is between this and the Qur'an burner from Florida. She didn't do it for "art," she did it to make a statement about Islam... and she did. She set out to offend certain extremists, and then is surprised when extremists act as they usually do? There is a difference between being provocative and just being offensive for no reason and she's firmly in the latter category, IMO.


Brian V said:
I don't see anything islamophobic about being disgusted by religious extremism, Erica.

Erica S. said:
And I'm disgusted by your rampant Islamophobia. But I guess you're not talking about the good ones, right? D:
In my first post I said "a religion." In my second post I said, "the Islamists who issued a fatwa." Is that specific enough for you? But tell me, Erica: Is someone who criticizes or mocks Christianity-- their number is legion-- a "Christianophobe"?
There's something unseemly in women defending Islam. In Islamic societies women are second-class citizens or worse. This holds true in Islamic enclaves in Europe and Canada.
Re Molly Norris. Her idea was that many others would join her protest-- that if all artists drew the-name-we-can't-mention, there'd be too many to issue fatwas against, or kill. Her idea was extremely naive, given the nature of artists and writers in today's world.
But what you're saying, Erica, is that in America a Molly Norris doesn't have the right to be provocative. That a group of "extremists" can hold our rights hostage, and we have no choice but to submit.
Yet, once, zinedom believed in being provocative. Provocation was a large part of what the scene was about. Have you not heard of cartoonist Mike Diana? Zinesters once believed in pushing the envelope of free speech, and defending it at all costs.
Re the pastor in Florida: He suggested burning a book. It's called free expression. You know, like burning a flag. In response to something he never actually did, masses of fanatics in Islamic countries rioted, burned churches, and killed people. Is that enough grounds to criticize a religion? Or not?
Finally, you show your hostility to free speech, Erica, by your "Islamophobia" statement. (Did you get that from Time magazine?) When someone is considered mentally ill for expressing an opinion-- or for telling the truth!-- then we have truly fallen very far in our appreciation of and defense of our liberties.

"I disagree with everything you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."
--attributed to Voltaire

p.s. Read what Voltaire said about the prophet we're not supposed to criticize or depict. But then, Voltaire was just another "Islamophobe," wasn't he?
I guess as I do with most issues that others seem to find very simple, I find this one rather complicated. Apathy, prejudice, cultural criticism---touchy subjects.

I'm also wary of labeling criticism of Islam as "Islamophobia", but at what point does legitimate, criticism become crass prejudice? The legitimate criticism of thinking, concerned people, can degenerate into blind hatred when it filters down to the masses. (I'm not a social egalitarian.) One can have legitimate criticism of the Torah, but over the centuries, that may have led to blind and hateful anti-semitism. Religion, ethnicity and race can be closely intertwined, and denigration of a religion can degenerate into xenophobia and racism. There seem to be some fine lines in all this watch out for, whatever religion, ideology or lifestyle is involved.

As a vegan and a libertarian, I know of Muslim vegans, vegetarians and libertarians. I'd rather have a frank but civil dialogue with them, rather than---excuse my candor---childish drawing of insulting pictures, like kids do in grade school. "Here's YOU!!!"

Yes, yes, I know about Mike Diana and zinesters pushing the envelope and all that, and I'm 110% for their first amendment rights and absolutely oppose and decry the government's violation of them. But frankly, all this "pushing the envelope" has gotten a bit old. It's been done and really isn't even that daring anymore, so I'm not that impressed by it, even though I'm not offended by it either. But I know some people have a taste for it, so I wouldn't want to begrudge them their preferred form of social commentary.

Part of the reason I'm not that "outraged" by this fatwah, and maybe I'm showing prejudice here myself, but I don't really expect much else from Muslims in countries where "Enlightenment values" haven't penetrated into the populace very much. To be fair, many, maybe most, Americans aren't that much more enlightened, i.e. the flag-worshipers, theocrats,... Getting outraged with such people would be an exercise in beating your head against a wall. Again, I'd rather have a civil dialogue with reasonable, thinking people, not hyper-emotional fanatics.

This'd be a great discussion for a good old print APA, where it good be taken nice and slow.
Quite a wishy-washy, apathetic post, James. You seem wary of labelling anything anything, or taking any kind of a stand. Maybe yes, maybe no. It could do this and it might do that, and we'd better be careful because after all you never know, and anyway I'm not outraged and I don't really care and it's all too bad but it doesn't concern me I'd rather be civil and aloof and away from all those contentious people tho I wouldn't want to begrudge them don't get me wrong but it's gotten a bit old we should all be always civil and polite even quiet maybe silent don't make too much noise take it nice and slow you might disturb me or possibly potentially disturb somebody and it's all rather disturbing but not too much far be it from me to say etc etc.
I'd think a libertarian would be concerned about the stifling of free speech. It's not just Molly who's been silenced. She was reacting to the silencing of the producers of South Park, who caved in to similar threats. We've seen within the past week the dropping of a panel by the cartoonist of "Non Sequiter" by the Washington Post because it might be possibly offensive. Chilling precedents are being set.
We're not talking about Muslims in another country. We're talking about a cartoonist in America-- a land where free expression is supposed to be the highest value.
The actions of the Mike Dianas back in the day had the same point that Molly Norris was trying to make: a demonstration and affirmation of our right to free speech. It's the essence of zining. Still. Or of similar samizdat. Always.
I see it's not very daring anymore, yet when a cartoonist receives death threats and has to go into hiding, becoming Disappeared, then maybe it is a little daring after all, or at least relevant, and most of all NECESSARY to make such noise to prove the existence of our rights, even if you don't think so. Sorry for those capital letters. Did I raise my voice? Sorry, sorry.
I apologize in advance if I've offended anybody.
For once I agree with (almost) everything James Dawson has said. Wow.

You have a right to free speech, yes. But IMO, you ALSO have a responsibility in a civilized society to be respectful, to not use your ~*~rights~*~ solely to antagonize. To use an analogy, someone has the right to walk down the street spouting racial slurs and trying to pick a fight. But that person shouldn't be surprised when someone rises to the challenge and punches them. And I'm not going to cry any tears over their fate, honestly.

Although, reading Molly Norris' Wikipedia page, it seems that the Facebook group was not her idea but rather inspired by a cartoon of hers. In that case, I do feel truly bad that she felt forced to disappear because of something that wasn't her idea. Especially as her cartoon wasn't racist, though many of the ones drawn by people on Facebook were.
I've penned many an outraged rant over many years in many zines and Internet posts, against all kinds of forces that conspire against all kinds of freedoms. The FCC, the FDA, the FTC. Social pressure, social ostrazition and tacit shunning, stupid frivolous evasion of serious issues. These are much more INSIDIOUSLY CORROSIVE to ALL freedoms, including EXPRESSION, than the ocassional mad Muslim issuing the rare fatwah. Nobody understands or cares about these much more powerful anti-freedom devices.

I don't think "outrage" does much or means much to these people, or the Nazi skinheads, or the White Power apes, or the "lesser" tyrants who oppress in the name of "sweetness and light" and "the brotherhood of man" or whatever platitude of the day. It's a very questionable expense of emotional energy.

Burning flags, Korans and Catchers in the Rye, and drawing pictures of Mohammed SHOULD NEVER, ABSOLUTAMUNDO!, BE BANNED, but they're a form emotional violence, and like PHYSICAL violence, don't "prove" anything to the people they're directed at. It doesn't make them understand anything. It just makes them madder and more insane. You're just re-inforcing their own sense of victimization and martyrdom.

I'll grant you, drawing pictures of Mohammed (etc.) is hands down (IMO) a dubious idea, while banning them and issuing fatwahs are evils way beyond compare.

What sort of "outrage" would you like to see? How should it be expressed? Why aren't more zinesters coming forward and showing it?
IMO you and Erica are conforming to "social pressure" not to say anything offensive about an offensive aspect of a certain religion-- an aspect likely intrinsic to that religion. Meaning, absolute intolerance. You're putting up, without realizing it, fences around speech. What can be more insidious than that-- or the political correctness which spawns it?
What exactly does "emotional violence" applied to speech mean? When you open the door to this concept, it can be applied to just about anything.
Criminalizing speech is a dangerous concept, my friend, and this is happening in other ostensibly liberal societies.
Note the Dutch politician Geert Wilders who is on trial right now for "hate speech." Do you agree with this?
Read what Wilders said and you'll see it's strong opinion about Islam. There are no threats of violence made by him.
There are no obscenties made. Strong opinion-- which zinedom was once, in this country, all about. Zinesters perfected the strong rant. Issues of Factsheet 5 in its several versions contained reviews of publications spouting very strong opinion across the spectrum, far Left to far Right to everything outside and in-between. Half the zines reviewed could be accused of engaging in hate speech or 'emotional violence." Keep in mind, both of you, and anyone else who might be reading this, that your strong opinion is someone else's hate speech. Throw Wilders in jail, or his like here, and soon enough you'll have to throw whatever your causes are in also, whether PETA or ACT-UP or flagburners or Andres Serrano or whoever else.
As for what means anything to the fanatics-- like bullies everywhere throughout history, they're encouraged by weakness. You reference Nazi skinheads. Have you read how the street thug who lead the original Nazi movement came to power, and increased his power throughout the 1930's? It was by proclaiming himself and his country as victims, victimized by the Versailles treaty (which was true), and he used this as a club against politicians in his country then later against the rest of Europe. An uncomfortable analogy I guess, but an accurate one. It's the concept of the "strong horse," which sees Western civilization as weak, decadent, and apathetic.
Islam, btw, is hardly a weak minority, given that it comprises over a billion people and its population is exploding demographically, while liberal secularists are small in number everywhere but in Europe (they're a minority even in America ya know), and in Europe the secularists aren't reproducing themselves. This isn't phobia. It's documented fact.
It's not without justification that Islamists believe the future belongs to them.
A question: Why is drawing pictures of Muhammed dubious?
You ask how to express outrage. I think Molly Norris had a great solution-- that everyone who believes in free expression draw a picture of the prophet, as a way to show that nothing is going to take our fundamental rights away from us. Making art, expressing ourselves through the tools of art, is a fundamental right. It can't be compromised.
If you say that doing so is offensive to some people then you may as well say that our entire civilization, our culture, is also offensive-- as no doubt to many it is.
There are no martyrs to free speech because we no longer believe in it. We've already compromised it in our heads. The criminalizing of speech is simply making legal what has already occurred.


King Wenclas said:
IYou ask how to express outrage. I think Molly Norris had a great solution-- that everyone who believes in free expression draw a picture of the prophet, as a way to show that nothing is going to take our fundamental rights away from us. Making art, expressing ourselves through the tools of art, is a fundamental right. It can't be compromised.

Amen to that!!!

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