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Religious rage

2010-05-26 13:20
 On the positive side, I don't think that anyone should be killed, fired, vilified or otherwise oppressed for having an imaginary friend in the sky. I also don't think anyone will burn in the fires of Hell's eternal torment – not even those who deserve to. And while we're here, I think that religious people should be left in peace to practise their faith so long as they show the same consideration for the rest of us. So... we're good?

Apparently not. In the past few weeks I feel like I've been trapped in the No Man's Land of a ridiculous cultural war over fashion sense and a mildly amusing cartoon. I want to stand up and say, "Brothers! Sisters! Lay down your arms! It's OK - you're BOTH morons!" But as you can see, I'd be such a lousy mediator that after my intervention the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Buddhists will probably start napalming each other's children.

But enough about me: here's what I think. Although I support Jonathan Shapiro's right to draw anything he damn well pleases, I can also understand why Muslims have added yet another Jew to their ever-growing shit-list. They've made it pretty clear that depictions of their prophet is equivalent to pissing in a cathedral's baptismal font, so it's safe to assume Shapiro is either unbelievably ignorant (he isn't) or intentionally set out to offend Muslims.

There's nothing wrong with that. I intentionally offend people all the time. Come on, some people deserve to be offended. Just to test the waters, I recently posted a couple of artworks on my twitter account – both featuring Jesus figures in flagrante delicto, demonstrating literal, NSFW interpretations of blasphemous phrases. Offensive, but funny. But offensive. But funny.

And a perfect counter-argument to Xtians who think Muslims should lighten up and get over it, because after all, it's just a silly drawing. Right?

Wrong. Apparently, lightening up and getting over a silly drawing isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.

As for the burqa issue, I'm going to give into temptation and get all reductio ad absurdum on its ass. Apparently, the reason for France's cultural intrusion is that they perceive the face veil as a sexist weapon for the oppression of women. Now leaving aside the telling observation that this issue has instantly transformed millions of mouth-breathing conservatives into bra-burning feminists, let's take Alliot-Marie at her word, and assume her mission is to rid France of sexism.

If that's the case, we can safely assume that after forcing Catholic nuns to drop the habit, her next step will be to ban all the fashion houses in the country that force women into eating disorders and treat them like human coat-hangers; perfume houses that insist women smell like anything so long as they don't smell like women; romantic comedy movies that perpetuate the hetero-normative standard of acceptable gender role-play; pornography; rap; and all French people.

Somehow, I don't think the French government's pompous, patronising paternalism will extend its wagging finger into Western culture – despite the fact that France, like the rest of the world, has far greater sexism issues than women who dress up like ninjas.

The final insult, as always, comes from the gutter-level hoi-polloi response, which takes the form of a "when in Rome" argument: "Muslim countries are oppressive, and make Western visitors meet their dress requirements, so why shouldn't we do the same?"

Because democracy? Freedom of religion and expression? Tolerance to end intolerance? Respect? Peace? Being goddamned civilised? Please stop me if this rings any bells. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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