I wasn't going to write a blog post about this topic - because gee I get myself in enough trouble as it is. But sometimes you just have to say SOMETHING before you explode and it ends up all over the place anyway, only then it's a lot messier. So I guess I'm a believer in cathartic blogging. Get it all out, Ginger.
How shall I begin?
French magazines and lewd satirical cartoons.
Don't worry! I'm not going to post them here. Because they're kinda SICK.
But that's not really the issue.
The issue is, and always is : people.
Life is a balancing act. Be it physical, emotional, or philosophical, we are weighing our beliefs, our principals and our responsibilities. And who's to say how any of us ought to pack the scales? People are in different places on their journey and they do things for reasons that we either totally get, or not. The point I'm getting to is that some people, myself included, would never print anything that intentionally mocks or parodies any religion. Most likely because we attach ourselves to some religious belief or other and we understand what it's like to have your deepest ideals publicly attacked. It's not very cool. But to some, people of faith are simple folk who need a panacea to cling to, and therefore deserve to be mocked at least a little. Some of these non-believers even think that by denigrating religious figures and symbols, they are encouraging discussion and cutting through the blind faith of massive herds of sheep, doing science and reason a huge favor.
And to an extent they are right.
Religion should be discussed, it should be questioned, and it should even be challenged. And yes, most reasonable people understand that there is a time, a place, and a method to challenge religion fairly and that you can and should maintain a decent level of respect for people's beliefs, whether it's one of the major world faiths or a stubborn devotion to Santa Claus.
I'm a Mormon for crying out loud. And I have Jewish heritage. I think I know a bit about mockery, disdain and flat out discrimination. But to tell you the truth, HBO's Sister Wives has not changed my life. The Book of Mormon Musical hasn't hurt me. I wasn't even perturbed by all the jokes and insults flung around during Mitt Romney's campaign. You could get all up in my face and say the most disgusting and horrible things about Mormons and Jews and even Canadians and I would most likely just smile at you pityingly for being such a sad, sorry excuse for a human being.
Well actually, I would probably give you an auto-responsive shove for being too far into my personal space. Respect the bubble, people.
But otherwise, say what you will. I don't care. And neither does my God. He isn't too concerned with the contents of late night television monologues or "adult cartoons". He's much too busy...I don't know...running the universe and stuff. If he doesn't mind a few tasteless jokes at his expense, then why should I? It does not change the type of Mormon I am. If it did, I would not be much of a Mormon.
But we're offended, the people cry. Oh no! What shall we do? Someone made a joke and it's out there for people to see! We must make them stop. We must make everyone be nice. We must make everyone see religion the way we see it. We must make everyone behave just the way we think they ought to. Because...freedom of speech only applies to people who say heck instead of hell? Or maybe freedom of speech only applies to those who behead non-believers with swords.
Whatever you might personally feel about the cartoons published by that french magazine or any other, you have every right to show your disapproval not only by not buying said magazine, but by expressing your outrage in the internet stratosphere. Use the most poisonous words in your vocabulary. Weep and wail and gnash your teeth if you like. But that does not change the fact that an irreverent cartoonist can speak and draw and print as freely as you and I. If there is only freedom of speech for some, then there is really freedom of speech for no one.
And even the most arrogantly irreverent satirist has people who love him and people who depend on him. A life lost to violence should always be mourned and never justified or weighed against some other person's hurt feelings. Because if there is no right to life for all, then there is no right to life for any.
And oh my bloody hell, imagine the pain of the families who lost someone as the world practically apologizes to the shooters. To the shooters!
Sure, we may be tempted to qualify our condemnation of violent retribution by expressing sympathy for the offended. But that's only if we're so delusional that we imagine offense to be involuntary. Offense is never given, it is always chosen.
I have felt displeased with many things I've seen and heard over my lifetime. I even (back in the days when my passion was greater than my wisdom) wrote a scathing letter to a local university paper for printing an image that was atrociously disparaging of the Catholic faith. I did not however question their right to print it. I really just called them out as being intellectualist idiots who'd exchanged thinking, feeling humanity for cold, bitter relativism. It was kind of fun.
But now we come to the crux; the thing that I hope you take away with you when you choose to be offended and click angrily away from this blog. Does someone really get so offended by a cartoon that they feel they must kill twelve people? Of course not. Perhaps they sock someone in the jaw in the heat of the moment, or say things they later regret. But no sane person takes a semi and shoots an unarmed cop in the head.
To say that these men were goaded into a mass killing is a despicable LIE.
Let's calm down and think this through, seeking always for the reasonable truth. Men who belong to an ever growing, and ever more boldly violent group of religious oppressors, stormed a business that was guilty of breaking one of that group's most sacred rules, punishable by death. Those monsters were not there to avenge a prophet, they were there to mete out the corresponding sentence. They were there to show the world that they will - and can - make us bow to their laws whether we recognize them or not. They are not victims. They are terrorists.
If you have ever been in the position to have your faith mocked and insulted - which happens almost daily to a Mormon/Christian/Jew - then you know, by the fact that you cannot identify with their desire to kill anyone who makes jokes about them - that these people do not deserve our pity. They deserve our prayers, but not our pity.
So what should we consider now that another violent attempt to silence free speech has come and gone? That the real war on terror never was being waged in some distant desert. The outcome can only be decided by our willingness to give way to sharia law under some misguided attempt to be politically correct, or our determination to live free. And to let all others live free.
Even if they have bloody awful taste in humor.
These terror attacks will not stop. I'm pretty sure they're just getting the ball rolling (and there are plenty of other groups and even governments willing to get on board this die-freedom-die campaign). This enemy has sworn to kill us all unless we submit to their faith. And while you have no real impact on what happens in the searing heat and sand at the frontlines of Obama's "not war", you are fighting this battle in a very real way, here at home, as you choose each day how to live.
Liberty is their enemy but it is our salvation.