Monday, April 26, 2010

Nobody asked

Amynah and Sana are in Edmonton right now. I am not. This state of affairs, already three days old, will continue to this Friday. This is both the first time I’ve been alone in Los Angeles, and the first time I’ve spent any time away from Sana since she was born.

In their absence, I’ve made certain discoveries. This apartment apparently functions like an ecosystem, in which every niche must be filled for it to function. Amynah, Sana and I all fill specific niches.

Ordinairily, when Amynah is away, I need only fill her niche and mine. I didn’t think filling Sana’s would be so important: she’s only been around for .01 percent of my life, so how crucial could her role be?

Apparently, very crucial. Someone, it appears, has to be the one that doesn’t feed or dress themselves and sleeps at weird hours, and only when forced too. And that someone is now me.

Accordingly, I been spending too much time on the Internet, thinking about things that are not the least bit important or original. So, does anyone care what I think of the whole South Park thing? No? Here goes anyway. In response to a couple of extremists threatening the creators of the South Park cartoon for implying that they had drawn Mohammed in a bear suit (important note: it was actually Santa Claus in there), the Comedy Central Network censored the episode.

Predictably, in response to that, a few Facebook geniuses have decided to make some kind of point by creating an “everyone draw Mohammed day” and encouraging people to post images of the Islamic Prophet on their profile pages.

This is very, very, stupid.

There are three parties involved in this dispute: the South Park guys, the network, and the crazies. Posting offensive cartoons does not help the South Park guys. Nor does it send any cogent message to the network. It does, presumably, anger the crazies, but only in the course of offending millions of other, non-crazy Muslims.

On the surface, that might still be appealing, but it doesn’t really make any sense.

Take the Don Imus scandal from a few years back. A jack-ass radio announcer, he called a college women’s basketball team a bunch of “nappy-headed hoes” on air. There was an outcry, and eventually his broadcaster fired him. His defenders yelled themselves hoarse over censorship, to no avail.

Now, at that point, would it have made any sense to defend Imus’ right to say what he wanted by repeating his words? Of course not – all that would have done would be to repeatedly insult a group of women that had almost nothing to do with his firing.

The same holds here: repeating South Park’s [non] offence, won’t have any effect on the ultimate censors – the network. And it won’t have any effect on the crazies either - the only thing, at this point, that would deflate them would be if Comedy Central reversed its decision. But posting a Mohammed cartoon because of this tempest in a teapot will serve as a middle finger upthrust in the face of every Muslim who believes both in their faith, and in not murdering people (which I am confident is the vast majority – especially on Facebook).

That, in the end, is what is at issue here: the crazies are not in the wrong because they’re Muslim. They’re not even in the wrong because they’re offended. They’re in the wrong because they threatened to kill people. The response effectively subjects anyone who peacefully belongs in the first two categories to a punishment that should rightfully be restricted to those in the third.

Of course, while such distinctions should matter to the “draw Mohammed” crowd, they don’t, because the middle finger approach requires far less thought. But reactionary contempt has noxious follow-on effects. To deliberately insult all Muslims for the offence of a very few is to agree on some level with the crazies that they speak for their coreligionists, when they most assuredly do not (I know at least one Muslim group actually accused them of being a front organization to make real Muslims look bad). Striking back at the crazies in such a broad fashion is to grant them an authority they do not deserve.

Beyond the pat-yourself-on-the-back feeling from having made “a statement,” (however meaningless it be) who other than the crazies themselves, does it serve to afford them such credibility?

(Incidentally, if you want to make fun of religious crazies, there are much more targeted and clever ways to do so).

1 comment:

Natalie Joan said...

Well said, Mark. As always.
And also answers the question I never got around to asking a few days back: Why are you alone in LA? Now I know.