“Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm” —James Madison
have been thinking about this whole scenario. *We* are shocked by the storming of embassies etc in response to cartoons. *We* see the cartoons as an *ok* expression of free speech. *We* use this as a way to elevate and/or justify ourselves (perhaps, in some way), while disparaging the *other* for their seemingly disproportionate retaliation. However, playing devil's advocate here, against *ourselves* I mean... aren't *they* just exercising *their* free speech back by means of demonstration? Is not what *they* are saying that *they* somehow feel provoked? The context of this provocation is a cultural Zeitgeist of religious sensitivity. Yes, *we* do want to be able to exercise our right to free speech. Yes, *we* don't see anything wrong with the cartoons. No, *we* don't agree with acts of violence and destruction of property and harm to others, so therefore *we* do not agree with the storming of embassies etc as a means of retaliation. But honestly, what do *we* expect??? It's like being in the school playing yard where there are a group of boys and a group of girls. The girls hate it when the boys punch them, and they run and tell the teacher. The teacher scolds the boys and then the boys hate the girls and the relationship gets more 'us' and 'them'. The girls then, childishly of course, decide the next day to play elastic on the spot where the boys play footy. The boys come out and see this and there is a stand-off, and maybe something happens and the girls get hurt and run off crying to the teacher again. In this scenario, it would be so easy to paint the boys as the bullies, and the girls as the victims. Likewise, in our cartoon story, it is so easy to paint ourselves as the victims. But how stupid do we have to be to go and do something that is of course going to provoke a reaction that probably won't be to our liking??? Of course the cartoons don't mean that much to us! And of course we don't think they warrant the backlash that has ensued, but really, did anyone think in advance that the cartoons would have any positive outcome and effect at all????? And no, I am not saying that *we* shouldn't feel allowed to exercise *our* free speech. But at the same time, what mechanisms exist for the *other* angered parties in this scenario to express themselves in a way that *we* deem acceptable? It is my strong belief that thos mechanisms are sadly lacking at the moment, and that it is such channels that we should be trying to innovate on and build. Yes, *we* are entitled to express ourselves, but so are *others* who disaggree with us. And yes, *we* don't like how *they* are doing it, but maybe this means that there is a communication problem between us that needs resolving, and that knee jerk reaciton which serve to lay blame at someone's door in particular or point the finger in general do not help! *We* need to take some responsibility in this scenario, examine *our* own actions, look at what *we* can do to bridge some gaps, stop behaving like wounded soldiers, and start talking. Really talking. Do we feel too threatened and intimidate to do this? What is our problem???
Talking, demonstrating, criticising = good.Burning down embassies, making death threats, inciting murder = bad.
you are right Ian - but what next? you can't just stop there, you have to propose something to help as well, otherwise it all spirals out of control...
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