Rantings and tirades of a frustrated economist.
Oh, lordy. Let's see...Heh, I should be working so I might have to sacrifice conciseness for quickness. Apologies in advance. There's a...slightly shorter summary at the end if you want to just scroll down.Also, I'm in the physical sciences, so remembering arguments about iconoclasm earlier today required vaulting over hundreds of useful and regularly mentally accessed credit hours to something like 11th grade enriched program's "Survey of Western Thought"...so I might be a little off on some points. 1. I was having this conversation with a recently departed labmate (he went on to do a post-doc, it's not that I've been communicating with the dead,) about why people were getting all up in arms, when there are depictions of Jesus and such all the time, in less than flattering lights, i.e., on SouthPark, and so on and so forth. My response there was:I can see where the reaction comes from; I understand finding it extra offensive moreso than a silly Jesus, because christianity is FULL of icons and in Islam it is fairly verboten. I wouldn't go killing people and burning things in my rage though, just a good old fashioned face punch would probably suffice. Or if not, you know I have no problem internalizing my wrath.Which, due to a silly argument on his part led to a:Christianity went through a stage of being almost entirely iconic--back in the middle ages when no one could read, they made the picture bibles and that was the reason for the prevalence of stained glass--one could argue that the art emerged from the religious types sponsoring the teaching through images. Not many Christians buying that concept? Think about the cross/crucifix: an icon. How many churches do you know that don't have the giant stuffed Jesus guy sitting up front?Islam has and remains something with a rich oral tradition. That's the reason there are so many blind scholars in Islam; it's a forum where one doesn't need to see to be able to excel since children are taught Quran from a very young age by way of repitition of verses and committment to memory. Indeed, most Muslims, better folks than I, can recite the bulk of the Quran from memory. I can probably go a couple of late chapters (the shorter ones are at the end), but...anyhow, there aren't pictures of god/muhammad/any of the big figures anywhere because it is a taboo because it starts things like this--misrepresentation and arguments or the golden cow issue and idolatry and such.And so on and so forth. ...So, I get it: I recognize that there's something that was instilled in me somewhere along the line that causes me to flinch a little when seeing the bomb-turbaned image in a manner not dissimilar than when suddenly presented with a link to goats.cx. Of course, I snicker at goats.cx. But it's a awkward snicker. 2. I think it's a combination of things that make some people sensitive to such things and others not, sort of like the flu or bacterial infections. If you're exposed to enough crap, your immune system takes over and when exposed to it again you don't have so violent a response. We have reality tv, they have reality. I don't think these are the intelligencia who are busying themselves with being crazy mad. I don't think it is the really really religious types either. I think there is a big middle ground with people who are prone to be sparked into taking an extreme stance and rolling with it. They haven't been exposed to lots of really potentially inflammatory stuff so they're having that "first flu shot" sort of response. It's unpleasant. 3. I figure it must be about as conscientious as any other taboo-- i.e., not really something that we're explicitly told, but that kind of irks us anyhow; incest is the only one to really come to mind that is so ingrained that even programming that goes for shock value doesn't touch it. And I'm not talking about "Family Guy" or "The Daily Show" as shocking programming since they both comfortably hang around picking on people who would self-select against watching their programs(, and in that sense are sort of lame). Thinking more along the ends of "Drawn Together" or "Duckman" or even "South Park" (who may still take cheap shots ala FG or TDS, but are generally pretty good at toeing the line). Anyhow, before I go rambling off on TV (because I watch a LOT of TV), Let me regroup because I am in danger of getting off point while being totally on point. Part of the reason I think I personally can't get really tremendously violently ruffled is that I DO watch a lot of TV. I have been exposed to countless acts of sex and violence and blasphemiousness on a daily basis. If you look at my older brother and I and our respective DVR-queues, we both watch enough hours of TV per week to have full time jobs. Delicious television is what keeps me from being a world conquerer. He and I joked about this debacle last weekend. It seems that something like this happens every so often...because I really thought I had seen those exact same images like 2 months ago, and I think he did too. It was very weird. 4. Continuing, as far as background, in the case it matters, our parents are both immigrants (Mexico and Egypt), but we were born and raised in the states; went to pre-school at the local community college; the enriched programs in public schools from 1-12; Ivy leagues for undergrad, I'm PhD-ing at UCBerkeley, he MBA'd at Anderson in UCLA... had a couple years of Saturday school where we'd learn Arabic and history/Islamic studies, and Quran, and so on. Can it be that 20+ years of secular schooling beats down but not out the 6 years of religious schooling? That could be a possibility. It's a pretty slim portion of the population that has the same demographics, so I wouldn't necessarily try to paint every muslim or scholar or whoever this same way. After all, I am also responsible for this: http://www.alienlovespredator.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=37415&highlight=#37415(find the mariam closest to the bottom of the page). 4b. Also, just in case I get into trouble, let me repeat: Saint Mayor McCheese isn't actually a Saint. Not in my estimation, nor in any religion that the author currently knows of. And really, if you've seen McDonaldland lately, he's kind of a crappy mayor. I said it! If it was a point of sensitivity to anyone, I'd apologize promptly and indicate that at the time I didn't mean to make a statement, I just took a bad picture that turned out vaguely amusing to me. When I doodle such things, if I share it with others, I think "Please don't worship the McCheese icon." I fall on the side of the argument that inspiration is probably as divine as any other tangled dance of neurotransmitters . If God or even others is/are to be judging, I think he'll take into account intention. There's a pretty big difference between doodling a picture of my boss, or in this case Mayor McCheese, with the intention of amusing my labmate (and really it was a matter of showing him that I could draw just as well not basing things on the x/y axes,) and not with the intention of 1. creating an icon for worship, nor 2. inciting anger/hurt in others. Even if we aren't on the same page, I think that argument isn't too oblique.As for others judging, I think legally we don't always take into account intention...if my having seen almost every episode of Law and Order and or any of its spin-offs* is to be taken into effect, sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn't. What was the professional cartoonist's intent in depicting a religious figure as a terrorist? I do a little publication work on the side and I know what it is as an editor and a reporter and a layout monkey to want to maybe be a little surprising or inflammatory to get readership up. In any case, in the professional situation, the intent there is most likely different than the intent when I'm sitting at my instrument waiting for things to pump down and fantasizing about how super tasty lunch would be, and how much tastier it would be if I was able to be just the little bit more awesome than usual by drawing MMcC askew. Maybe in both cases it's about ego, but I argue that there's a matter of knowing your audience, and being responsible. (*-not "Law and Order: Trial By Jury". Even if it did have Sideshow Bob's wife as a lawyer and Alyssa Milano's tv mom (from "who's the boss", not that other show she's on with the witches) as a judge, I could never stay awake through a full episode; it was like the first 3 times I tried to watch "Lost in Translation"...Scarlet Johannsen's general level of beauty and my love for Bill Murray aside, it just didn't do it for me beyond "More...intensity." which cracks me up as I sit here rambling on. I've had the joy of being on a jury and that was a way more amusing experience than watching that show...even if it was amusing because I forced 11 people to stop behaving irrationally and consider that a person _still_ failing 12 different sobriety tests _2 hours_ after the fact, was most likely intoxicated when slamming into some lady on the highway, even if "you can't trust the po-lice"...heh.)5. The first big Jesus-centric iconoclasm period was approximately 800 years after JC himself. (Btw, he's a prophet in Islam too, though in arabic he's "Isa") with iconoclastic riots still occuring in Zürich (in 1523), Copenhagen (1530), Münster (1534), Geneva (1535), Augsburg (1537) and Scotland (1559). (Danke, Wikipedia). If you take a look at the year Hagia Sofia was turned into a mosque, 1453, and subtract out the year of Hijra, 622, there's the ~800 year gap. Take 622 from 2006 and that's...1384...so really these riots are right on time, maybe ahead of schedule by a hundred some years, a pittance in geological timescales, if we view iconoclasm as a sort of...awkward adolescence in the lifetime of a faith. Islam is like that girl in elementary school who had boobs and understood feminine hygiene products in like 2nd grade a couple years before we all sat down in gender-seperated classrooms and got "the talk". Years later, I would sit weeping on a bathroom floor, thinking that I had contracted Ebola and waiting for the onset of the bleeding out my eyes. It took about 20 minutes for me to realize that perhaps my recent reading of "The Hot Zone" was making me misinterpret something that perhaps I should have been expecting as a "normal occurance". That being said, I was a super-star when we were actually graded on knowing such things and can probably still do a fetal pig dissection faster than most. With 3 sets of gloves on. People can be both fast and slow regarding the same thing in different contexts. *******************************So, in summary, I don't mean to argue that molotov cocktails are appropriate, mind you; I'm just saying...Is it expected? Yeah. 1. It is a fairly well known taboo-- we're not big on icons;2. It's a little worse to people who aren't used to such things;3. You might not realize that we, in western cultures, are pretty much exposed daily to such things; (4. I may not be an especially useful representative in this case...in fact I might be a particularly bad representation of Islamic normalcy;)4b. In talking about the reaction one might think about intent and audience and noted that it was kind of a dumb thing to print if one didn't intend this; and 5. These might be expected Growing Pains,...like when you invite the Seavers over for dinner. heh heh. To some, even most, Islam is slightly more of a lifestyle than a religion. You figure a lot of these folks pray 5x/day. Things going great, they pray in thanks; things going poorly, they pray for patience; there's a motivation as far as one has sort of concerns about one's soul...what'll happen down the road, and so on. (Personally, I probably recite more Quran as I'm walking along the Berkeley/Oakland border at night going from school to home than I do...any other time. It's calming and keeps me from freaking out in the calamity of sirens and the shady areas with people doing business and so on and so forth.) With a certain kind of piety, people can get pretty serious. And pretty serious people can get pretty seriously pissed. Is it right/wrong? Meh. It's a reaction. Much like one has allergies to things, so it is--stimulus will yield response. If I come up with some formula for "sociological-histamine" blockers I will ask Bill and Melynda Gates to hook me up with the cash to mass produce knowledge with the intention of making it widely available to all for nothing except maybe some frakkin' gratitude. And an maybe someone will hook me up with my own island."'Crazy' is like the Malaria we haven't spent enough time looking into scientifically," I'll say. Back to work. I hope this didn't come out _entirely_ irrational: I am a female though, it is my curse.
heh, I could have been WAY more concise. Imagine a red-headed halo-loving economist-reading woman. (A little hyphenate-crazy, but fine.) She asks you out to do something classy and shows up to the date and is friendly and flirtatious and you're thinking, "ho man, things are going to go well". You go out fairly regularly and she puts out, you know, as is sort of expected in this day and age...and things are fine. Then one day, blammo! She reveals that she 1. Is so socially liberal and fiscally conservative that she's socialist2. Loves Michael Moore3. Thinks Halliburton is the devil4. Majored in communications and reads the economist mainly to look at good layout in action5. Likes Cindy Sheehan6. Thinks teaching in ebonics is a step in the right direction 7. Wants to be a social worker8. Says "We're pregnant with your baby!"...I think that is probably what it would feel like to suddenly open up the paper and see that...and not only see that, but then have the papers of another nation reprint that to endorse the fact that "yeah!, people have the right to say offensive things", which is true, but doing it for the sake of doing it, let's say all the women in the greater Minnesota area are going to take R-H H-L E-R lady as a role model now... and now there's a glut of social-working hippy retards there. It would be like Berkeley, except the size of Minnesota. A rational person might cringe. A person not ready to deal with such a reality might freak out. ...People freaked out.
HOLY COW!MARIAM!!! FOCUS, DUDE!!!!!That being said my sister works over at Botchan Labs! You don't happen to be in bio chem?
I enjoyed Mariam's response.
I did too, but it took a little while.
Hey, isn't Botchan lab the one that had the TB scare?Look --- yeah, yeah, free speech. Yeah, yeah, the guys calling for a fatwa and cartoonists to lose their heads are a bunch of nutcases and should be imprisoned.But the cartoons are tasteless, crude, and clearly intended to prrovoke rather than to say much intelligent. The motives of the paper originally publishing them are therefore probably terrible -- agin, not that anyone oughtta get whacked over it, but. The stuff shouldn,t have been printed fopr taste reasons. And you are, sorry, a bit of an ass to've done so yourself. Look, we're in a war of ideas. This crap doesn't help anything. Free speech is great and you should be able to say anything you want (which isn't harmful) with it. But, the right to be a dick doesn't make it admirable to be one.Figures, that when the far right and far left websites finally agree on something, it's tasteless crap. And the US State department, wonder of wonders, got it about right.
I will admit to just wanting to piss off radical muslims, even though the image was of bad taste. But this is after the idiocy and lunacy of destroying embassies.
Though one could argue I work with the biomolecules, I'm more on the tech-development side of the chemistry. I imagine we know some of the same peoples though, much like me and Ankur from "Beauty and the Geek". Bacon Number=1...maybe 2.
E-mail me, we'll talk. It would drive my sister nuts that if somebody would actually mention my blog clear across in Cali, thus suggesting it's more widely read than she believes.Cpt. C.
Well, now, see, as far as I can tell both the cartoonist and the paper shared your goal of just wanting to piss off muslims -- and NB the cartoons, like the one you posted, aren't limited really to "radical" Muslims. That one implies that Islam itself and its messenger are fundamentally terroristic. You might consider an apology. That's a really lame answer, CC.And that's the thing. Sure, dont' firebomb emsassies, sure don't tell me somebody has to be beheaded, and sure --- those things are MUCH worse than the sin of being a dick. But, hey, let's not forget that someone was a dick. And in a particularly unhelpful way since right now we are trying like hell to convince non-radical muslims, that we don't hold them in contempt. Jesus, doesn't anybody read the damn script?And one more thing, enough eith the comparisons to Rushdie. Rushdie is a (IMHO, overrated) writer who was trying to make a piece of art and in the process pissed off a bunch of nutjobs. This cartoonist on the other hand se out to piss people off --- well, congratulations, Einstein, you done succeeded. CC, you might take the lesson to heart. Now, the cartoonist doesn't deserve to spend the rest of his life in a small dark room clutching a gun and shrieking whenever the door opens, and it's a horrible thing that he's going to have to do so. But --- and this is the difference from the Rushdie case --- it's also sorta funny.
I couldn't disagree more.If the guy had just posted the picture I wouldn't have thought anything about it.When I see the embassies of countries getting destroyed because this one picture seems to rile and anger the group of muslims I don't particularly care for, of course I'm going to post it.If you want to be insulted by it, it's your choice, but you and the sane muslims of the world are not the target.
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