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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Allah akbar, except when he isn't.

Why is it that rightwingnuts like myself get tagged with being anti-civil liberties? Is it because we've let the ACLU define what civil liberties are? Is it the liberal media? Is it Friday yet?

I don't have a big hook here. I haven't been accused of violating anyone's civil liberties this week. No freedom of speech repression, search and seizure abuse, or attempts to prevent interracial couples from marrying or buying furniture at IKEA. I'm actually pretty defensive of these rights, although the whole IKEA thing definitely stretches my convictions.

Anyway, I haven't been able to figure out how the Left has grabbed the high ground on this one. Is it because of the whole "women's right to privacy and get an abortion" thing? Or does it have something to do with the "gay marriage" issue? I know the Libs yell a lot about civil liberties on these issues, but let's face it, it isn't some high minded concept of freedom that's motivating them in these situations -- it's simple political and personal interest. Libs like gays. Libs like being able to have sex without repercussions. Saying that the Constitution motivates their fervor is like saying the Bill of Rights is the reason Larry Flynt publishes Hustler.

In truth, I believe that the Left is as willing to turn a blind eye to civil liberties as the Right. For every rightwingnut willing to sacrifice a little personal liberty in order to catch bad guys and ensure security, there is a liberalcommie who wants to stifle free speech in the name of not offending anyone (or, perhaps, in an attempt to chill debate). Whatever the case, most of us, as Americans, generally agree that there are some "inalienable rights" that we all possess. Generally, the above case not withstanding, we recognize freedom of speech, association and religion. This is important, because a (classical) liberal democracy depends on support and understanding of basic human rights. Without these rights, we would be unable to effectively execute our democratic duties because of viewpoint repression -- that is, without a firm support of individual rights, there is no brake to prevent the majority from doing its worst to limit opposition, which is the very backbone of authoritarian governance.

Which brings us to the Middle East. I've got to say, I have found the current "Mohammed cartoon" tempest the most interesting civil rights display since George Wallace was whipping the bussing pony. For decades now the West has been looking to the Middle East with the hope that each of the countries will quit hating and making excuses and begin working toward joining the 21st Century (or even the 19th). Listening to politicos you can practically see their dreams like they are a comic thoughtbubble: democratic societies sharing their cultural and economic benefits with the rest of the world.

What this latest brouhaha has shown, far better than any war, is the basic root differences between cultures. I use the word culture rather than "civilization" because I think if the past week has show us anything it's that the Middle East is not civilized. It's no secret that Muslim society doesn't exactly foster freedom. In some Muslim hellholes countries, women can't even show a little cleavage. (I don't wanna live like that. The whole women voting thing, however . . . well, let's stay on tangent.) The Middle East, generally, is a poor, repressed, and brutish place where human rights are a myth. Hell, if it didn't have the good fortune to sit on huge oil reserves the only reason you'd hear about the place would be every decade or so when Israel had to put down some impotent jihad every few years.

I don't want to get embroiled in a debate over Islam. Every time some nutjob over there starts talking about destroying Israel or the Great Satan, some "liberal" Muslim in NY gives a nickel quote about how the Koran doesn't support such jargon. Whatever. All I know is that a majority of the population in these sandblasted camel pits appear to spend their days dragging their knuckles and shouting "Death to _____!"

Lemme put this in perspective here. In America, if someone does something to offend the religious sensibilities of the most fundamental of our Christian brethren they will generally issue a press release calling for a boycott. Fine. In the Middle Eastern culture that's just a speedbump on the way to killing all non-Muslims. Let me simplify this: They are upset about a @#$% CARTOON! They want people KILLED! Their leaders have actually called on European governments to punish the offending papers for blasphemy, as if they didn't know that most western democracies quit putting people on the rack about the time that the Spanish Inquisition went out of style.

(This actually reminds me of a "clash of cultures" moment I had a few years ago. I was in western Oklahoma in a printshop, and the girl behind the counter had this frisbee-sized belt buckle. I said, "Nice buckle," and she responded, "Yeah, my boyfriend won it, he was NCAA barrel-riding champion." Surprised, I said out, "There are universities with rodeo teams?" She replied, "I thought they all did." It still makes me smile whenever I think of Dartmouth having a rodeo team.)

I could probably understand the backwards fundamentalism. I mean, hey, we were all there a few hundred years ago, right? What I'm having troubles with is the hypocrisy problem. Some secular Dane draws a cartoon of Mohammed, so the answer is to have a contest to draw cartoons about the Holocaust? Nice and childish. What the hell does Israel even have to do with this? Last I checked it wasn't anywhere near Denmark.

BTW, here's the most mentioned of the offending pics. Good luck finding an American paper with the cajones to print it:


Of course, the upside to all of this is we get some great headlines. My favorite was "Embassy Burned by Cartoon Rioters." I can just picture Deputy Dog lighting up a Molotov cocktail.

To finish fair, I should also point out that Europeans defending free speech is like Tara Reid promoting clean living. I did find it humorous that a French paper published the cartoons one day, and then fired their editor and printed a retraction the next. That was a pretty quick surrender even by French standards.
 
Centinel 7:19 AM #

5 Comments:

I exercise my right to free speech


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