A. beat me to it, but I wanted to link the recent Mohammad cartoons with the discussion here on respecting friends’ sacred objects.
A. asks several questions I want to address, but the replies will take far longer than is appropriate for a comment, so I’ll expound here.
Why should we expect people to not be offended just because other icons are regularly charicatured?
I’ll leave this one alone, because I think it would be silly for anyone to not expect that at least some Muslims would be offended by the drawn representations of their religious figures. Someone’s going to be offended at just about everything, after all.
Is it necessary to demonstrate rights to prove we have them?
No, but I think that’s only happening in the reprints of the cartoon series. In the original case, it was all about a woman trying to get illustrations for her children’s book by someone willing to use their name on the illustrations.
As far as why people are reprinting: it’s a rebellious move. It’s saying, “Hey, we have the right to offend just like you have the right be offended.” I’ll even quote from an article I read this morning in the Indy Star from Molly Moore of The Washington Post:
Germany’s Die Welt daily newspaper published one of the drawings on its front page and said the “right to blasphemy” is one of the freedoms of democracy.
In other words, your god is not my god, and no one has a right to force me to obey someone else’s scripture.
Why is it funny to make fun of what others hold sacred?
Is it that it’s funny because it’s sacred, or is it that it’s funny, and you just happen to hold it sacred?
Why don’t the other groups get so upset/why wasn’t Muhammahd poked sooner?
…I don’t know what other groups are being referred to, but the author trying to get illustrations for her books mentioned that no one would draw Muhammad using their own names. Apparently, these are the first cartoonists that felt they could and would. *shrug*
Why do we hold so little sacred anymore?
This question always bothers me. We have diversified in what we hold sacred, and we are more public with that diversity. People that are atheist or deist or Wiccan no longer have to cater to the Christian majority to avoid being persecuted. (Well, for the most part, and depending on where you live.) Christians hold their scripture (and interpretations of that) sacred; others don’t. Why is that something to commiserate?
Why did we ever hold anything sacred, seriously? (None of that controlling the populous – there’s got to be far more to it than that)
I think controlling the masses is a good deal of the political reasoning behind imposing organized religion on people. Now, as for why people turn towards religion and make things sacred, it could be anything from “the book tells me to” to superstition, but it mostly boils down to, “It gets me through the day,” which I think is the reason behind many people’s spiritual choices. Whatever gets you through the day and sleeping okay at night.
The parallels between the Muhammad cartoons and the events of last week’s 004 Show are present and banging around in my head.
Two radio talk jockeys (WO and Guy) make a five-minute joke in which they talk about the Bible in terms of fanon and canon, as though it, Jesus, and god are fiction. They categorize the King James’ version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, etc., into these categories. In the process, they categorize the Jehovah’s Witness interpretation of things as non-canon. Or fanon. Or something.
The difference between the situations is that if the two radio jockeys had spent a second thinking before expounding theories of fanon and canon in the Bibloverse, they’d have realized that they would be offending one of their friends. Friendship isn’t directly an issue with the Muhammad cartoons.
Should there be the same level of respect for things that any group of people hold sacred as for something a friend holds sacred?