Thursday, 22 April 2010

Seeing Muhammad in a bear suit harms nobody

Yesterday, an Islamist group warned Trey Parker and Matt Stone that they could face violent recriminations for an episode of South Park which features Muhammad ibn 'Abdullāh - the Prophet of Islam - in a bear suit.

On the blog of the American group, Revolution Muslim, they said this;
This past week South Park aired an episode which insulted three of our beloved prophets: Musa (Moses), ‘Isa (Jesus), and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. Not only did they do this, but within the episode the makers of South Park made it very clear that they knew how the Muslims would feel and potentially respond to their show. In an effort to cover their actual intention to incite, the creators of South Park carefully contrived a plotline that they believed could only stump those Muslim extremists that may arise to defend the honor of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They wished to degrade and mock a man who is held in highest regard by Muslims and many Non-Muslims alike, and indeed many have categorized Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the most influential human being that ever walked on Earth.

By placing the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a bear suit, the creators of South Park sought to insult the sacred, and show their blatant and general disregard for religion. By insulting our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) without the outright depicting of his image, the creators of South Park thought that they had found some loophole in the Muslim faith for them to mock.
Except Parker and Stone weren't looking for a loophole. They were just mocking. As they said in an interview with BB Video, "it would be so hypocritical against our own thoughts to say 'okay, well, let's not make fun of them because they might hurt us.' That's messed up to have that kind of thought process, y'know. Let's rip on the Catholics cause they won't hurt us, but let's not rip on them cause they might hurt us. That's not us."

But the point, as ever, is lost on the Islamist wingnuts. Revolution Muslim find it "hard to understand how one can feel self-righteous while defending somebody as an “equal opportunity offender." This argument, they say, must "emanate from a selfish culture in which the suffering of the many is justified by the enjoyment of the few." Except, of course, that there is no suffering - at least not until the many who believe in free speech are attacked by the few who subscribe to Islamism.

Ah, but, "free speech is a vital tool in the staving of oppression, but this function has its limits." But then, most sensible people would argue that threats of violence are more worthy of censorship than cartoons of a long-dead, illiterate desert dweller. 

Not so Revolution Muslim. They "have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show." Hell, they go further and quote a supposedly renowned scholar as saying "if someone says that the button of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is dirty, then he should be executed!"

The outrage that I'm sure we all feel is somewhat muted by the fact that this is not new territory for South Park. I don't mean the episode where Cartman used the fact that Family Guy was going to depict Muhammad as an excuse to shut the show down. I'm referring to a much earlier episode, titled Super Best Friends, which had him as part of a deity-superhero council.

But, as Parker and Stone point out, that was before the "Danish cartoon thing." And even then, "if everyone had just, like normally they do in the news organisations, printed the cartoons and all rallied together," nothing would have happened. Instead, they "left him out to dry."

No doubt there would have still been an outcry, but solidarity would have reduced it to an irrelevant rabble and quashed the threat. Instead, we have a bunch of lunatics - who commit a grave logical fallacy by constantly quoting the Qu'ran in order to "prove" the message of the Qu'ran - threatening people with violence for the slightest perceive offence to the religion they claim to practice.

We would be better rid of these people. Their message is a reactionary one which offers nothing to working class Muslims except violence, hate, and false promises. More than that, these idiots offer fuel for the fire of their opposite numbers in the white nationalist movement. Neither side offers a solutions to the problems of capitalism, and unlike the fascists the Islamists don't even pretend to.

Why, for example, is depicting Muhammad worthy of death when the oppressive regimes of Iran and Saudi Arabia aren't even worthy of comment? Ordinary Muslims, both in groups and as individuals, have spoken out vociferously against the crimes and oppression of Islamic regimes - see, for example Yasmin Alibhai Brown's opposition to Sharia law. But Islamists, as supporters and promoters of exactly this kind of brutality, remain silent.

That is important to remember when they talk about "suffering" in relation to cartoons. Whilst they support the "right" of the long-dead to not be caricatured, they do not support the right of the living to think freely or to live and love as they so wish.

Revolution Muslim finish by quoting Osama bin Laden, "if there is no check in the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions." In response, I finish by quoting Charles Bradlaugh;
Without free speech no search for truth is possible… no discovery of truth is useful… Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs the hope of the race.