Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Peace, Love and Understanding?

Everywhere I’ve gone in the blogosphere this week, I find that everyone is weighing in on the Muhammed cartoon images that have sparked violent protests throughout the world. There isn’t much for me to say on this except: free speech – good, violence in the name of religion – bad, insulting people’s religions and beliefs – bad. I know that reads a lot like the assessment at Cosmic Variance, where there is some good commentary as well as interesting links on this subject, but what else is there to say?

Not much.

There is of course much to learn. I’ve been reading a series of excellent posts by Gypsy Scholar in which he discusses the issues surrounding the depiction of Muhammed. This is all very enlightening, to say the least. Dr. Hodges effectively refutes the notion that Islam does not allow renderings of the prophet and provides several examples of images of the prophet that came from Muslim artists.

There is also an excellent series at Perspectives of a Nomad that discusses some of the larger issues within Islamic society and its relationship with western society. Scottage makes the argument that we may be seeing the emergence of some new players on the world scene who are instigating this appalling violence. Afterall, as Gypsy Scholar points out, these images had been published in Egypt months ago.

One hopes that we can find ways to live peacefully together, since (I think, I hope) that is what most of us humans want. And what most religions appear to teach. Of course this really is more about the cancer of fundamentalism that can infect any religion.

So there it is, a gypsy and a nomad with lots of very thorough, interesting, and thought provoking writing on this subject that only now seems to be hitting the consciousness of the nonblogging American mainstream. I can’t help but wonder what those whose first inkling of this was yesterday’s headline that said something to the effect of “Bush urges end to cartoon violence.” I agree. Bugs Bunny has been getting away with murder for years. Let’s give poor Mr. Fudd a break.


  1. I think we all want to weigh in on it because it’s so appalling. It’s also a remarkable testament to the power of a pen.

  2. I just wanted to say thanks for the referral, James. I like to think I’m helping raise some understanding of the issue, and it’s very gratifying to know that, at the least, it helped you. I would love to hear more on your thoughts on the issue at any time.


  3. Hello, thanks for stopping by over at mine, how did you stumble if you don’t me asking?

  4. Jessica brings up a good point. But for the sake of playing devil’s advocate:

    1) Muhammed is the spiritual leader of the Nation of Islam. President Bush is the leader of America.

    2) Political cartoonists poke fun at President Bush every day.

    3) Therefore, is it fair to argue that political cartoons depicting President Bush as “King George” or a greedy American totalitarian can also be determined as offensive to American citizens?

    4) And therefore, is it then fair to argue that politcal cartoons about Muhammed, and political cartoons about Prez. Bush, are equally offensive and inappropriate?

    At what point does a political cartoon whose aim is to be provocative and that pokes fun at something cross the line from being something we can laugh off, and something that is hurtful and demeaning?

    Because lets face it: Yes, depicting Mohammed as a bomb-toting terrorist was insensitive – but accurate in terms of the stereotype that has been propagated by the actions of a few extremists. Just as not every Muslim favors violence, not every American favors war and taking over the world.

  5. Jessica, It certainly is appalling (the violence) and further proof of the power of words and images.

    Scottage, I’ll try to write more on this at some point, but in the meantime, your stuff really is good.

    Daniel, Thanks for visting. I found my way to your blog by way of Jessica’s.

    Lauren, Thanks also for visting. I’ll try to address your comment in order.

    1) Yes about Muhammed (but Nation of Islam (proper noun) is a separate entity based in the US that many Muslims regard as heretical.) and despite six years of focused denial, I must agree that, yes Bush is the leader, well, the president of the US.

    2) Agreed.

    3) Yes, many people are offended by any questioning or ridicule of the president as I so callously did in #1.

    4) This is very broad. Some cartoons are going to be more offensive than others regardless of who is being depicted. Satirical cartoons will affect different people in different ways and have different contexts, so one shouldn’t say that cartoons about Muhammed and about Bush are equally offensive. A cartoon with either man as the subject could easily be far more or less offensive than the other, and thin-skinned people will be more offended than thick-skinned people whether they be Muslims or Bush supporters.

    Good question here about crossing the line; it’s one I’ve thought about a lot, and the answer (for me and me alone) is that it crosses the line when the purpose is solely to offend. Unless there is a larger point being made it isn’t really satire anymore. It’s just a cheap attempt to get a reaction, rather than contributing to any kind of discussion.

    Having said that, I am one who is going to value free speech far above someone’s right not to be offended. People will always be offended in a free society and most of us just get used to it and learn to laugh at ourselves a little. The bottom line for those who are offended easily is that they don’t have to look at or read cartoons (or anything else) that they find offensive.

    On the last point, I’m not sure that because a satirical image faithfully adheres to a stereotype we should somehow say that people shouldn’t be upset.

    I do wish, though, we were seeing demonstrations in which offended moderates were protesting the actions of the radical Islamists who seem bent on perpetuating these stereotypes through their actions.

    Thanks for your comment and for dropping by.

  6. James, thanks for the links to my blog. I took a break from the cartoon crisis today, but I don’t see this issue dying down quite yet, so I’ll doubtless get back onto it.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  7. My pleasure. Yours is one of my favorites. I suspect you’re right that there’s more to come on this too.

  8. A very rational opinion, I’m surprised the blogging software polarizing filters let this post through.

    But seriously, where are the cat pictures? (just kidding). Very nice looking blog.

  9. AbbaGav, Thanks for visting. You killed me with the blogging software polarizing filters.

Comments are closed.

© 2018 Coyote Mercury

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: