Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cartoon Violence

Today the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, described in the news as a Canadian Islamic group, said that Canadian troops have been put at risk by the decision of some Canadian news outlets to publish the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Now I want to say that this Council was not making a threat. I understand that. But by linking the possibility of violence towards our peacekeepers overseas they are exploiting the threat of violence to further their agenda.

How this plays out will be interesting. We Canadians have an image of ourselves as bastions of tolerance, true its one that is built on a understanding of our history that can be described as selective at best, but its become a part of our national identity. At the same time the culture of our political elite is secularized, and tends to treat anyone with conservative religious values with derision and suspicion. As a threat to the body politic.

The Council wants to use our anti-hate laws to try and punish the publishers. If it was about hateful or insulting images of Christ or Christians I doubt the courts would even consider looking at it. Nor would the media be sympathetic, or even give their precious air time or page space to a serious consideration of the complainants. I've seen these images. Some are offensive, others aren't. One is simply of a frightened cartoonist drawing a man in Arab head dress. The argument being made by Islamic groups is that any image of Mohammed is offensive to them and a violation of their religious laws.

Where do I stand on this? I think peoples' religious beliefs should be treated with respect, but why should we be made subject to Islamic law? This is not an Islamic nation. I do understand how aggravating it is to see your religious beliefs being mistreated and misrepresented. As a Christian I can't listen to a week of CBC radio without some idiot saying something insulting or derogatory. But why should one religion be allowed to dictate the behaviour of everyone else. If Christians were doing this, they would not be treated with any measure of respect. Why grant it to another group? As a display of tolerance? Or are we being intimidated by the threat of another 9-11?

(And before any one criticizes that last comment, I have seen protesters making just that point.)

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