I’ve been considering different angles on the Danish cartoon fiasco for a few days. Here they are, in no particular order of importance–and not necessarily exhaustively expounded upon. Food for thought.
+ Civility, manners, tolerance, and perhaps respect of the idiosyncrasies, traditions, beliefs, rituals, symbols, customs, etc. of others is reasonable behavior, but doesn’t that sword cut both ways? Isn’t it so, that the most outlandish, ridiculous, closed-off belief systems are the least respectful of others’ beliefs and symbols?
+ Keep in mind that this does not rise to the level of moral issue until the "offended party" threatens or initiates violence. Only then is it a moral issue, and the "offended party" is in the wrong. If I want to be a jerk in word and attitude, it is my right as it is the right of others not to associate with me. If, instead, they vow to kill me, then, well, don’t I have a sort of an ex-post facto justification for mocking them and their beliefs, symbols, and everything they’re about in the first place–particularly if I have good reason to know what their reaction will be? Anyone with the capacity to use violence against mocking words or images ought to be relentlessly mocked until they get over such a juvenile capacity, or until someone rightfully blows their brains out in self-defense.
+ Can anyone make a case for a moral imperative to make fun of or mock beliefs and their symbolic representations–no matter their power to inspire–that do not possess any demonstrated factual basis in reality, but which guide people’s behavior–often to the danger and detriment of others–nonetheless? Just for the sake of argument, assume that all religious beliefs are false. Given the history of civilization over the last 3 millennia, how do you suppose the "guiding hand" of such fantasies–having no essential correlation with reality–affected that history? How about the the general religious tendency of stifling and interdicting human knowledge and scientific advancement? For those individualists who lament that, "but for this (the state), we could be free," I say: but for this and that (the church), we could be free and living lives hundreds of years long, maybe longer. It is, after all, man’s life that is what this is all about, and there is a distinct difference between the Catholic terror of the Dark Ages and its 20-year lifespans and the 70 years we get today, now that that particular institution has been relatively put in its place.
+ If Islamic terrorism were just the work of a few isolated crazies, then that is a different context from that in which you have institutional Islamic terrorism, i.e., sponsored, promoted, and morally sanctioned by states, mosques, multiple sects, and reasonably large groups of people. At the same time, there is very little outcry from the the practicing Muslim population. Back up a few hundred years. Is anyone trying to tell me that the Catholic Church should not have been mocked and ridiculed right straight into the ground for its persecution of "heretics," its treatment of women in general, and its dictatorial reign over virtually the entirety of Europe?
It’s too bad, really, that some sane people didn’t mock and ridicule the holly hell out of that medieval evil insanity, the Roman Catholic Church (for instance; there are many other examples). Of course, they couldn’t, could they? They’d have been burned at the stake, right? Please, tell me what’s not to mock. Tell me what’s to respect and cherish.
It’s really simple: All religions, every single one, are completely and totally full of shit. What’s more, they all take themselves far too seriously, which is at the root of two millennia of "holy wars" that amount to nothing, NOTHING more than "my tooth fairy is better than your tooth fairy."
I live in a world full of children who believe in Santa Clause, all the while admonishing me how very important it is to help them in keeping this illusion propped up, because it’s so comfy and cute. Well, I ain’t buyin’ it, and I will ridicule, mock, and curse everything about it unto my very last breath.
Because for what could have been, but isn’t, and probably won’t be in my lifetime, which is the lifetime that happens to matter the most to me. And it’s all because of the church-state stranglehold throughout human history. They are two sides of the exact same coin. Individualists who aren’t equally condemning the church, along with the state, are only fighting half the battle.
It is principally through the epistemologic destruction rendered by the church and its parental agents and institutional allies that we live in a world that can’t really think.