Monday, September 17, 2012

Making a film is not a crime. Period.

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

To say that surveying the media over the past few days has been a distressing task doesn’t quite cut it. Nor has it merely been irritating or fatiguing, though it certainly has been those in abundance. No, above all the experience has been comprehensively, piercingly dispiriting: “depriv[ing] of spirit, hope, enthusiasm, etc.; [to] depress; discourage; dishearten,” as so ably defines it.

I’m talking, of course, about the abject surrender of the so-called “civilized world” to hysterical, mediaeval barbarism. Eight years after the broad-daylight murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an Islamic fascist, not one Western official has been able to condemn Tuesday’s killing of a US ambassador and three of his staff by Islamic fascists without hastily adding an accompanying condemnation of… a YouTube video. President Obama was eloquent in vowing that “no acts of terror will ever [...] eclipse the light of the values that we stand for,” but this was directly at odds with his earlier coded apology to the murderers, where he affirmed that “we reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”

Nor were columnists any better. In a particularly appalling Guardian example, Andrew Brown said the “blasphemous” film “offends against the central values of liberal democracy” and ought to be “banned” and have its “distributors prosecuted” (a position that puts Mr. Brown in the company of Ayatollah Khamenei, who demanded that the US government “punish those who committed this heinous crime”). Elsewhere, the best that many were able to come up with was that the embassy attack was “un-Islamic,” chillingly suggesting things would be different it if it wereIslamic.

I don’t care who made the film, who paid for it, or what it contains. Unless we’re to simply give up on liberty and the Enlightenment, this prostration has to stop right now. Unless our culture is forever to be held hostage to the veto of injured feelings, then the following ground rules need to be plainly articulated: You can say whatever you want about the Prophet Muhammad. You can do the same about the Pope, Jesus, Moses, Mithras, Buddha, Brahma and Zeus. No ifs. No buts. No apologies.

Making a film is not a crime.

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