Thursday 8 January 2015

Offence is a funny ol' thing....

Twitter is ablaze with commentary on the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack. The Right-wing are falling over themselves to attack decent Muslims, slamming anything remotely Islamic as supporting terrorism. Liberals are falling over themselves to ensure they doesn't offend Muslims, by not posting or retweeting the cartoons allegedly responsible for the attack as it may "offend Muslims". Meanwhile, the vast majority of Muslims are actively tweeting their disgust at the continued hijacking of their religion by fundamentalist terrorist nutcases, condemning strongly the attacks, and saying very little about the offending cartoons.

Most sensible Muslims recognise that while the cartoons may be offensive to their beliefs, terrorist attacks, murder, violence and injustice are substantially more offensive than a cartoon.

I understand Liberals not wanting to offend Muslims, but the cognitive dissonance seems to be making the brains of some go into a near meltdown. Liberals are, by our very nature, usually tolerant of the beliefs of all. We are also ardent defenders of free speech. Or at least we SHOULD be...

Look.. If a CARTOON offends a religion, then quite frankly, it can't be a very strong religion, if it can't stand up to a little satire without resorting to claims of oppression, "Islamophobia" and bigotry. Or blowing things up. If a CARTOON offends you more than the systematic oppression committed in the name of your religion, you need to rexamine your belief structure and your priorities.

If not wanting to offend Muslims means not reposting something as innocuous as a cartoon, where are you going to draw a line? Do you believe Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' should be withdrawn, never quoted, and hidden from view as it genuinely offends the deeply held beliefs of some. Do you believe bed & breakfast owners should be free to discriminate against gay people, because their sexual orientation offends their deeply held beliefs. Should liberals remain silent on those issues as well, while they carefully chose not to post a cartoon, for fear of deliberately offending members of one religion.

If you believe reposting a cartoon is deliberately offensive, then ask yourself this. What offends you? What do YOU do, that others may find offensive? Are you wearing clothes that some may be offended by? Do your beliefs on same sex marriage offend some people? Do you watch TV programmes which cause offence to others?

Chances are, the answer to at least one of those questions is a resounding YES. And what do you propose to do about it? Hint. The answer is nothing. And nor should you.

Some people actively seek to be offended, others pick and choose what they feel may cause offence or inflame situations such as the cartoon controversy. The fact is, free speech means the right to offend. Equally, people have a right to be offended. What they categorically do NOT have is the right to shut down those causing them the offence.

Granted, there are very few things which offend me, but for the things that do, I get offended, I may respond, and then I move along, get on with my life, and think nothing more of it.

As an an atheist, I find all religions completely pointless, redundant, and HIGHLY offensive. I find the oppression of women, gay people, atheists, etc offensive. Substantially more so than the reposting of a cartoon, and with good reason. These things offend me because they affect real people in real, deep, meaningful ways. A cartoon, no matter how offensive does not.

So, a handful of Muslims will be offended if I retweet a cartoon. To which I say, tough luck. There are many things about your religion I find offensive. And please don't make the mistake of thinking your religion is being targeted by me, with a view to being offended, or causing offence. I am equally offended by Catholicism and the engrained culture of paedophilia. Somehow, though, I doubt the well meaning liberals would take issue with the posting of cartoons insulting the Pope.

Thankfully, the vast majority of Muslims offended by the aforementioned cartoon are immeasurably more offended by the senseless killing of 14 people in France. It's a shame they are the ones more vocal on the subject, while some liberals dance around the issue, in a bid not to cause offence, while simultaneously, and rightfully denouncing the actions we have seen over the last couple of days.

If Muslims can live with being offended, and you can live with offending people in other areas of your life, you can live with a cartoon being retweeted, reposted, blogged, shared or printed. It may be provocative. In some instances, it may be done out of pure bigotry, ignorance and out of malevolence. What it may NOT be is suppressed. To do so, in order to appear "politically correct" or so as not to cause offence hands a victory to the lunatics who bombed Charlie Hebdo. And it takes away YOUR right to offend, your right to free speech, and panders to the perpetually offended brigade, regardless of their religion.

Sadly, there are those who will use the cartoons with the SOLE intention of causing offence, because they are bigots. Those who retweet out of support shouldn't be tarred with the same brush. In the same way, Muslims cannot, should not, and must not be tarred with the same brush as the terrorists who commit atrocities on a regular basis. Particularly when they are proving to be more tolerant than some of the liberals commenting on the events of the past few days.

All religions have their problems. All religions can be, and are, frequently, abused or distorted to promote the ideology of radicals. The peaceful and the innocent accept and understand this. Conservatives AND Liberals must do the same.


DASP said...

Fantastic post. Well said.

MetalOllie said...

Thanks Dasp!