I used to be a flaming liberal, always ready to defend the rights, freedoms, and thoughts of anyone. I felt that all cultures were equally valid and no one had the right to criticize anyone else's culture. Our Muslim friends and neighbors have finally convinced me I was wrong. (Oh, the irony.)
I thought the whole Danish cartoon scandal was rediculous, but those sympathetic to the over-reacting Muslims did have one good point: the cartoonists were deliberately poking fun. Now most people can take a joke, and even those of us who can't will usually just sulk for a while. We certainly don't go around calling for the public decapitation of the person who made the unwelcome crack. And yet a bunch of "extremist" Muslims did just that.
But this time, this time there is no excuse, no defense, no justification for the insanity. The cartoonists may have sparked riots, but the fact is they did intend to be insulting (that is the point of a satirical political cartoon.) Mrs. Gibbons plainly had no such intent. Hers was a well-intentioned, if slightly (and only slightly) misinformed act. (I say 'slightly minsinformed' because apparently the ban on using the name isn't universal -- for several months kids took the teddy home before a parent complained. Clearly the parents of all the other kids were as blisfully ignorant of their religion as Mrs. Gibbons.) And now there are riots calling for her execution.
I refuse to resepct any culture/religion/ideology/whatever that suggests death (or even 15 days in prison) is an appropriate punishment for an accidental insult. Mrs. Gibbons harmed no one. She hurt no one. No property was damaged, no lives or reputations unraveled or destroyed. This is out of all proportion, and we are under no obligation to respect it.
I'm sure that the government and some other prominent individuals will be reminding us shortly that this isn't the majority of muslims, it's just a crazy "extremist" minorty. But is it really? Where are the protesters telling the protesters to shut up, chill out, and go home? Where are the MUSLIM voices crying out that this is nuts? They are conspicuous by their absence.
Ben Macintyre of the The Times would like us to believe that the Sudanese government is using Mrs. Gibbons as a pawn in their political games. That's probably true. But if it were only a few corrupt and nasty government officials who were making a scapegoat of Mrs. Gibbons, the incident would be much smaller in scale. The problem is that thousands of people agree with the goverment. The Sudanese people are not crying "Our corrupt goverment is using an innocent woman to maniuplate our support! They are shit and we will oust them!" No, they are crying "Death to the infidel! They are as happy to make Mrs. Gibbons a scapegoat as the government is, and that makes them just as crazy and just as extremist.
And this isn't just a few nutters in Kartoum. There is slilent complicity all over the world. Middle Eastern nations should be condemning this for the insanity it is, repremanding the Sudanese government for making Muslims the world over look bad. Where is the outrage from other Islamic nations?
Now, before you go and delcare a fatwah on me (oh hell, go ahead and delcare it anyway; nothing I say to you will make any difference if you're of the fatwah-issuing mindset), I'm not saying that every Muslim is a crazy extremist. Just the majority of them. Why? Because Islam itelf it inherently irrational. Built into the very fabric of the relgion is intolerance, over-reation, extremism, impatience, suspicioun and contempt. No rational, thinking being would view the reaction to Mrs. Gibbons faux pas as appropriate. End of. The people calling for her death or imprisonment are not rational and they don't think. Furthermore it appears that this is the majority of Muslims.
If you do not behave in a reasonable manner, I am under no cultural obligation to accept you as a reasonable person. And if you follow a philosophy that condemns reason, thought, and rationale, I will dismiss you as unreasonable, thoughtless, and irrational. Political correctness be damned.