The Transhumanist says that it is ok for people to make fun of Islam and in fact this should be encouraged. I disagree because that is really rude behavior and this is supposed to be a civilized society. I do not walk up to people and insult them so why do should I not be offended if same happens to me? Yes free speech is important and when I get offended by a rude insult then i will express that I am insulted and that too is free speech.

Still, Transhumanist says that humor will help lessen power of the mullahs over the people. This assumes that there is no self mocking humor in Islamic world. Well, look at what The Arabist says about a tv show in Saudi Arabia!

JEDDAH, 30 September 2006 — For years comedy has been used to satirize the state or society in the Arab world. It is said to be the only way to criticize the systems in the region without having to spend a night or two in lockups.

More than two decades have passed since Syrian icon Dareed Laham starred in his hit motion picture “The Border”. In the film, Laham criticized Arab-style bureaucracy in a production that has become a landmark for the modern history of political satire in the Middle East. Today, Arabs can get a little relief from the sometimes-frustrating realities of politics and society by watching “Tash Ma Tash,” which first appeared on Saudi TV during Ramadan 14 years ago.

"Tash Ma Tash" is somewhat of a phenomenon in the Middle East. It's one of the most widely viewed TV programs during the month of Ramadan, popular for its ascerbic attacks on the status quo. What's somewhat surprising (at least to those who have little knowledge of Saudi Arabs) is that it is a Saudi production, in Arabic, so clearly for domestic consumption.

One episode this year satirized the recruitment of terrorists, having the would-be terrorists compete in an "American Idol" type show. You can imagine how well that went down in some quarters.

Anyone who goes to Middle East can see for themselves that muslim world has very funny sense of humor. in fact sense of humor there is better than in America where everything funny is either about politics or sex.

it comes back to this simple ting: do you want good relations with someone? then don't be rude and insult them. Don't make excuses for such behavior, either.


thabet said...

Comedy gives us a good example of the insider/outsider problem as well as those questions related to power and control.

We can all make fun of our own. It is a lot harder to make fun of outsiders, especially if we have the power and the others do not. It is also easy to understand the powerless mocking the powerful.

But mockery from dominant cultural groups against minorities would appear offensive and threatening (even if never intended to do so).

Hatcher said...

There's also the question of proportionality of response.

If I insult something you hold dear, you have the right to take offense. You even have the right to tell me so. I don't think, however, that you have the right to kill me, to kill someone as a surrogate for me, to burn down buildings, etc.
Someone once said--wisely--"the best antidote to free speech is more free speech."

That's speech, not riots, not murders, not general mayhem.

Free speech is a two-way street. I have the right to offend you through my speech (though that certainly could be rude and ill-mannered); you have the right to equally offend me.

You may think me, in consequence of my speech, to be a jerk. That's a consequence I have to bear. Killing me because you've been offended, however, is not proportional to the offence.

Sakina Arwah said...

hatcher you are being very rude to even mention the issue of killing or violence in this conversation because the discussion is about we muslims in the west and free speech. No one burned or rioted in ohio

Alim, that is a very good point. it seems that the entire way in which The West interacts with Islam can be seen that way as who is dominant and who has power. Islam is feared by the West and so they will seek to keep power over it and these "humor" are really just their tool to do so.

Matoko Kusanagi said...

sakina, i acknowledge the truth of what you say.
but, is calling someone a jihaadi if intendeded mockingly truly an insult to Islam?
perhaps it can become a part of speech and lose some of its power to scare.

Hatcher said...

Sakina: I find your remark over sensitive and rude in its assumption that my remark applied to all Muslms. Thank you for making my point in an area I had not intended.

My point is that unless and until there is one, mutually accepted view of "truth", then there will always be friction. Some of that friction will be painful. The adult response is to learn to bear the pain responsibly, not to lash out at every provocation.

The reason for that is because you and your beliefs are not the only ones out there, held with equal sincerity and depth. Unless you are somehow in the position to know what God wants, then your position is no more or less valid than anyone else's position.

And I certainly distinguish between "what God wants" and "what a religion says that God wants".

You may say that your religion is synonymous with God's will. Fine.

But you have to deal with the fact that 5/6 of the world's population doesn't agree with you. Of course, they could be wrong and you right. But you do not win the argument through simply asserting that this is so. The argument becomes harder to win when others, presumably acting within the same religious understanding, find that violence is the answer to rudeness.