Sep 28, 2006

Yeah, but who sets those boundaries?

As I've indicated before I do read a lot of political blogs that I firmly disagree with. Jamal, author of Opinionated Voice, posted about an interesting topic regarding the BerlinÂ’s Deutsche Opera's cancellation of Mozart's 'Idomeneo' that brought up some great thoughts on the boundaries of free speech.

Just to give a little background I came across Jamal's blog a long time ago when he commented on my post concerning Wafa Sultan's comments on Islam on the Al-Jazeera network. He argued that her position is flawed, plugging his own website in a hyperlink of his comments. While I agree that some of her statements are indeed in error it was far beyond the point I was making about her personal safety as a critic of Islam.

Still Jamal's plug worked in that I went to his website and read his views on how Sultan is ablasphemerr even linking to my post accusing me of being a supporter of her. After reading through other posts I found his statements to be well thought out even though I whole heartedly disagree with a lot of them, but it's intelligent and his candor about his political ideology is refreshing.

I never commented on his posts figuring I wasn't going to change his mind about his positions on Israel, the pope quoting a 400 year old Byzatine document, or free speech. As I stated before though I will bring up a post of his that I found fascinating.

Jamal's comments on the opera house's decision to close the controversial musical are:

"A good decision made, as it is of no benefit to cause offence to the Muslim community and further disrupt the integration/inclusion of Muslims in Europe. It has been argued that "the cancellation is also a dangerous act of self-censorship at odds with the principles of liberal democracy and artistic expression". However, the decision was correct and we must accept that freedom of speech and expression is not without boundaries."

Since the extremist Muslim riots concerning cartoons I've heard many arguments on the supposed boundaries of free speech. While yes I understand that we have limited access to free speech in many areas, such as we can't say we want to kill you-know-who, should this apply to critique or ridicule of theology?

Now let's ponder this. When many people argue that the Danish cartoons were produced in poor taste I would have to agree. I can see where people take offense to having their beloved prophet being mocked. Many people in all religions often refer to their savior as their father. I don't think most people would idly stand and protest if they saw their family being the object of satire.

Regardless of how you can understand the extremists actions violence is no excuse, nor answer, to ridicule. The boundary of free speech should be defined by good taste and personal restraint, not by smashing cars and burning embassies. The lesson the extremist Muslims have learned since the Danish cartoon controversy is that violence has won. Europeans are now to afraid to critique certain politics or faith and fear should never be the driving force behind self censorship.
Religion is much like politics in the fact that both are ideologies and both should be open to criticism and yes even mockery without the fear of violent reprisalsal. Protests and boycotts are reasonable means of countering such speech. A civilized society should not allow this extremism to rule the day when it comes to art, or anything for that matter. People of all faiths should understand this and if they don't then intergration is futile.

BTW in the same post Jamal states:

"Update: Slightly off-topic, but I thought I'd note that Michelle Malkin is reporting on other "critics of Islam under fire" for their slander. But we don't listen to her or read her dodgy links."

Yeah I'm not sure what his point is either considering he does read her blog obviously. Why I don't know since really all she does is post a bunch of links with soundbyte opinions.

Keep on fighting the good fight Jamal.

"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." - Gandhi quote ripped off of Jamal's blog.


Scott said...

Interesting post. I was surprised that the opera was pulled when I heard from it. Free speech is sooo important to me, but that value is definately not shared around the world. Limits are easily placed and accepted by some individuals it seems.


rawbean said...

I was listening to this opera situation on the radio and I guess the main reason they were pulled is because they were in danger if they continued.

While reading this post I had tp keep checking that I clicked on the right blog. How can you go from Dustin Diamond to this? Heehee.

jamal said...

Thankyou for the comments. My opinion is that the only wayforward in building a better world is in the recognition and debate of differing ideas and opinions.