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February 8, 2006

Cartoons of the Prophet -- Part V

** The politics have been breaking rather oddly on the those satiric cartoons. Some of the papers daring to reprint them have been right-wing papers -- normally more sensitive to affronts to religion than to limitations on free expression. (Does it depend on which religion?)

** The argument, as I see it, is not between the natural enemies atheism and orthodox belief but between the natural enemies pluralism/freedom of expression and orthodox belief. Which raises the question (actually Bob Stein raised the question) of what an atheist might see in this battle.

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at February 8, 2006 9:48 PM


Whatever this warfare started out as, it's no longer a battle, as you put it before, between Muslims who believe their Prophet should not be depicted, and Western intellectuals who believe in the freedom to print what they want, including to satirize other people's religious beliefs. It's now a battle between Muslims who believe the entire West stands united in opposition to them as such, and right-wingers who assert their power to amuse themselves, regardless of the costs to others. This latter group is the first to criticize news outlets for committing what they regard as ethical violations, albeit ones that are not governmentally banned and that they have the "freedom" to print. That is, this is no longer a battle about religion or religious beliefs. Maybe it always was about ideological authority, and the cartoons were merely the excuse...on both sides. As status warfare, the stakes are zero-sum. One side wins only when the other loses. So, to respond to your previous posting, there is no middle ground, no non-doctrinaire bridge. And atheists have no stake, either.

Posted by: george at February 9, 2006 4:58 PM

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