Freedom of religion, expression, and to act the fool.by Don Lacey on Sep. 26, 2012, under Art & Culture, Atheism, AZ Politics, Christianity, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Faith, Freethought, History, Islam, Logic, Mormonism, Question of the Day!, Quotations, Reason, Religion, Responsible Government, Sanity, Terrorism, That's Life!, Willful Ignorance
The icing on the layer cake of recent lunacy is the call to investigate treason for the producers of The Innocence of Muslims. The mental midget making the call has also started a petition through change.org. So far there are 15 supporters. He recognizes freedom of speech but is trying to make the case that the movie is the equivalent of shouting “FIRE” in a crowded movie theater. He makes a similar charge against the Reverend Terry Jones for his threat and ultimate act of burning the Koran. Let’s apply the “slippery slope” argument shall we? If we are to charge Rev. Jones and the producers of the controversial movie with treason, what should we do with Salman Rusdie? How should we remember Theo Van Gogh who was murdered for his movie Submission which was critical to Islam? How should we treat Ayaan Hirsi Ali? She is currently living in the U.S. in fear for her life because she is outspoken about Muslim abuses including her own personal experiences. In 2006 the United States welcomed her. If the fact that the United States is protecting her causes some Muslims to riot, is the State Department committing treason?
Freedom of expression is paramount in this country and according to Alan Dershowitz, “The best answer to bad speech is good speech.” Why should we give away the freedom of speech of our citizens because it offends Muslims to the point of rioting? This is the last option to consider and those that suggest such a thing should be shunned.
Beyond that, there is a very practical lesson about submitting to the unreasonable demands. In 1795 the United States paid close to a million dollars, ship store, and a frigate to the Dey of Algiers as ransom for 115 sailors taken by pirates. That stopped in 1801 when Thomas Jefferson refused to pay tribute to the Barbary Coast states. Our aggressive stance immediately broke the back of the Barbary Coast alliances. The demands for tribute almost stopped completely when we stopped acceding to their demands.
Before we can completely capture the high ground in this situation, however, we must step back and look at our own ability to get annoyed and derive irrational anger over what others are doing. While we’re not rioting, there are those that are outraged at the Mormon Church for virtually baptizing dead people. These baptisms are done by proxy. They’re done in private and even Atheists get incensed at the idea. Why? If the Mormons want to baptize every dead person on the planet, does it matter? If they want to go to their favorite grotto and dunk themselves in a ritual that has significance only to them, why should we care? Let’s break it down: Do the dead people care? No! They’re dead. If you didn’t know about it would you care? Of course not! If you didn’t know about it you couldn’t care. So offense only happens when one finds out that someone is doing a dumb ritual that doesn’t mean anything to you and mentioning a dead person you might know. Perhaps we should save our ire for those that leak the information. Baptizing dead people is a foolish endeavor that actually does nothing. There is another way to look at it. One more Mormon dunking themselves in the name of a dead person is one less knocking on my door.
We can stop most of these irrational responses if we stop trying to ascribe negative motivations of others. Follow the advice of the British playwright James M. Barrie, “Never ascribe to an opponent motives meaner than your own.” I’m sure that the producers of the Innocence of Muslims did not intend on creating riots just as the Mormons baptizing dead people are not trying to purposely upset the living relatives.