This article by a friend of mine Forest Rain Marcia certainly gives food for thought. (Incidentally, she is American!)
Are the French braver than the americans? The US government is making excuses for the attacks on American embassies across the Middle East, ignoring the defilement of American sovereign territory and the US flag, ignoring the flying of the enemy flag on American soil and worst of all – the murder of Americans (including a US ambassador). Moreover the government is blaming and apologizing for a silly movie that supposedly was the excuse to begin riots across the Middle East.
Lynch mobs have become "demonstrators". Rioters are now "protesters".
A movie is "despicable". Murder is excusable.
Outrage is directed at the disrespect to Mohamed. Where is the outrage for the disrespect to America? Where is outrage for the lives of the murdered – who were murdered only because they symbolize freedom?!
On the other hand there is France.
Stephane Charbonnier, editor of French satire magazine Charie Hebdo knew what he was doing when he decided to publish cartoons ridiculing Mohamed. The offices of the magazine had already been firebombed once – by angry Moslems. Ever since, he's been under police protection.
It seems the government, possibly the police requested that the new cartoons not be published – understandably, they did not want to have to deal with more riots and violence.
Instead of being afraid, giving in, giving up, Charie Hebdo decided to publish: "When we attack the Catholic hard right...nobody talks about it in the papers. It's as if Charie Hebdo has official authorization to attack the Catholic hard right. But we are not allowed to make fun of Muslim hardliners. It's the new rule...but we will not obey it," says Stephane Charbonnier, Charie Hebdo editor.
The French government resignedly announced that freedom of speech will be protected, the magazine can publish what they like and violent riots will not be tolerated.
What a contrast!
The quality of the YouTube clip or the French satire is not in question, that is not the point. They may be rude, lewd or stupid – that doesn't matter. Outrage should be at those who believe it is reasonable to murder, burn and destroy as a reaction. Outrage should be at those who use violence and threats to shut up people with a different opinion.
Different opinions are important. We need to be able to voice crazy ideas. We need the silly, the idiotic, the rude and the stupid crazies because with them we get the brilliant crazies, the revolutionaries who won't sit down, shut up, move to the back of the bus. The brave and the morally correct. The trail blazers. Like the man who was brave enough to stand in front of America and the world and say that he dreams of a time when people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. And the man who decided that slavery should be abolished and that it was important enough to fight for. An entire way of life was wiped away when American slaves were freed. That was crazy – but it was also the right thing to do.
Without the low you do not get the sublime. People who want to make idiotic clips or rude cartoons need to be free to do so.
Without the ability to say wild things no one would ever speak of the idea that one day we would use computers that could "talk to each other" at a distance. Or ride in rolling metal boxes instead of using horses, donkeys and camels.
I grew up on an America with ideals. Freedom, justice and liberty for all.
Where is the freedom of speech?
Where is the justice for the murdered?!
And liberty? Where has America gone? What is left?
Vive la France!