Did Muslims react so strongly because they did not understand or believe in freedom of speech? Gallup’s data, which demonstrate Muslim admiration for Western liberty and freedom of speech, indicate otherwise. The core issues of this apparent clash, or “culture war,” are not democracy and freedom of expression, but faith, identity, respect (or lack of it), and public humiliation. As France’s Grand Rabbi Joseph Sitruk observed in The Associated Press in the midst of the cartoon controversy: “We gain nothing by lowering religions, humiliating them and making caricatures of them. It’s a lack of honesty and respect.” He further noted that freedom of expression “is not a right without limits.”
I’m focusing on this last quote; from Grand Rabbi Joseph Sitruk; it’s fairly naive to ask a religious authority about how people should talk about religion in the public square. What do you imagine the Grand Rabbi will say about religion; that satire is satire and we should accept the clowns with the accolades? No. Simply no. Like the Pope or the GRand Vizier, the religious authority is going to fall on the side of the religious without fail. Therefore there opinion; however florid, is moot and accepted as supporting religion without inquiry.
The “Cartoon Debacle” highlighted something that I hold dear; the ability (and lack thereof) to laugh at oneself. It’s a hard pill to swallow when someone makes fun of your hero; it’s even harder when that hero is your personal savior. This I get; but when someone lampoons my heroes (even the ones that I adore) I don’t feel compelled to violence (any more). If it is funny; I laugh. If not, I fume and maybe even give back an indignant remark; but that’s about it. It seems that people can get very huffy about their heroes, personalizing anything about said heroes as an individual slight. Not only does this show a shocking lack of character, but it demonstrates a lack of development on par with serious emotional developmental issues.
Notice that (any more) I dropped in there? That’s because it USED to be that one could goad me into a tear-stained fury just by making fun of the music I liked. I hadn’t developed the emotional coping mechanisms that would allow me to separate myself from my interests. This is probably the kind of lack of development that leads to violent reactions to parody. I don’t know; I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m just a Blogger.