Monday, February 06, 2006

The inadvertent truth

Here's a photo taken yesterday of a banner carried by primary school children during an anti-Danish protest in Ramallah.

"We respect your freedom, do so for our dogma."
First off, I have doubts this is the sentiment of a primary school student. It's more likely the sentiment of the student's teacher, the one entrusted with shaping the child's beliefs, attitudes, and future. But what's more striking is the wording itself. The writer sets western freedom in opposition to Islamic dogma. I can't argue with that.

"We respect your freedom"? Obviously not. You don't even seem to comprehend what freedom of speech means. It means that no one in society is protected from expression they may consider offensive, within certain limits. Those limits do not include blasphemy, as demonstrated by years of fruitless fussing by Christian groups every time someone makes a film with Jesus in it, dips a crucifix in urine, or tries to make a religious icon out of animal feces. The message to the offended is always the same: Deal with it. Ironically, our freedoms do not include the right to call for murder and destruction, a type of speech that has become a Friday afternoon ritual in much of the Muslim world.

"... do so for our dogma"? No. We don't have to respect your dogma. We are free to think what we like about your cult, and furthermore, we are free to say what we think. Your dogma doesn't trump our freedoms, and it never will.


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