Innocence of Muslims and Freedom of Speech

Storming embassies and killing ambassadors is a disproportionate reaction to slander of a prophet. There is no excuse for such mindless violence. The Muslim rioters should acquaint themselves with the rest of the world enough to learn about freedom of speech, and to understand that in the western culture, it is commonplace to insult and make fun of religions and politicians. All voices should be heard. Often disagreement can be expressed with respect but we do not expect everyone who disagrees to do so respectfully. The thing is to not get provoked when someone tries to provoke you. Islam is not the only thing that gets ridiculed.

However, many people have pointed out that freedom of speech does not apply when the intention is to cause damage. The makers of this film didn’t invite anyone to start a riot but they must have known that making such a film would anger Muslims. Maybe they wanted to prove that Muslims are violent. If so, they succeeded. But that is not a moral victory for the film makers. They are at least indirectly responsible for the riots that lead to the deaths of innocent people. Maybe the film makers didn’t anticipate the proportions the riots would take but they must have understood there would be riots. And when there are riots, people get injured.

My take on all this is that nothing should be above criticism. We must be able to disagree, criticise and make fun of anything and everything, without someone resorting to violence to protest against our opinions. But, and this is big but, the purpose of the criticism and mocking should not be simply to offend someone. If you have a grievance against Islam or any religion, you can talk about it and you can laugh at it. But do it intelligently. Do it to raise discussion about the problem you perceive.

This film wasn’t intelligent, it wasn’t even funny, and it wasn’t made to raise discussion. Its only purpose was to provoke anger. As a consequence, Middle East got more fuel to its hatred of the Western culture and the West got a confirmation of its prejudices against the Middle Eastern culture. Everyone loses.


About inmyinternest

A thirty-something woman, watching the world turn
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