A few thoughts on watching your tongue

This morning, I was doing some preliminary research because I had planned on talking about the cartoon controversy, which is blowing up (hah hah) into epic proportions. But as I navigated through the British Broadcasting Corporation’s website, I came across an interview with Flemming Rose, editor of the Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper at the heart of the controversy.

The editor says that he stands by the publication of the twelve cartoons, and was asked by the BBC if, knowing what he knows now, would he still publish the cartoons*? His response (italics are mine):

“That is a hypothetical question,” he says. “I would say that I do not regret having commissioned those cartoons and I think asking me that question is like asking a rape victim if she regrets wearing a short skirt Friday night at the discotheque.”

This statement caused a gut reaction in me, perhaps because I have a sensitive gut. I believe that I understand the gist of what he is trying to say. What he means to say is that he has a right to free speech and expression which should be protected, and that in a rational world he should be able to publish political satire without fear of reprisal. Just as a woman should be able to wear a short skirt to a discotheque without fear of rape. But I think his choice of comparison was poor.

The fact is, a shocking percentage of the population is under the impression that wearing a short skirt (or tight blouse, or heels, or red) is an invitation to be raped. That the victim, in fact, is “asking for it” by choosing to dress or behave in a provocative way. It is very clear at this point that a large portion of the Middle East believes that the Jyllands-Posten and Denmark were asking for it by publishing cartoons of the prophet. Although what did Norway have to do with it? That’s like claiming that Iraq is harboring terrorists and bombing Iran instead! Patent foolishness, I tell you.

Maybe I am just overly sensitive to this issue because of my own background, academic and personal. And middle class American women in their twenties living on the coasts of our great nation tend to be extremely sensitive when the subject turns to rape. But when I read that statement, I had to ask myself if the editor perhaps thought the explosive backlash to the cartoons was to be expected, and that actually he did regret publishing them. Maybe in his world, people who wear short skirts or publish offensive political cartoons should expect a violently negative response to their activities.

I promise, I will not be firebombing the Danish embassy in San Francisco over this, or urging a boycott of Scandinavian items by all Americans, but I must admit that his statement did give me pause. I do not know very much about the Jyllands-Posten as a newspaper, or Mr. Rose, but I am wondering how many similar scrapes he has found himself in, if he’s so loose with his tongue. Or maybe I’m just a whiny liberal weenie. I don’t know.

Also please I am curious to know when the war on terror is going to focus on domestic terrorists like Eric Rudolph, abortion clinic bomber? Because it seems to me that under the Patriot Act, bombing abortion clinics (or suggesting that abortion clinics be bombed) is clearly an act of terrorism. Especially since he killed someone and critically injured another.

I do hope that Ain-Al-Yaqeen publishes some choice political cartoons soon, perhaps of Jesus telling a pregnant rape victim that she can’t have an abortion because it’s against Christian morality. Oh, or maybe one of Moses eating Palestinian babies! Perhaps we should get the Hindus into the fray as well, and have one of Vishnu frying up some steaks. Maybe if we all insult each other’s religions we can even the field a bit, although I must say we have some catching up to do in the embassy arson department.

*One might ask, given the offensive tones in the latter half of this piece, if, knowing what I know now, I regret publishing it. My answer is no, because hardly anyone reads my blog anyway, and those who do should know better than to be offended by what some random person on the internet says. However, if you do find yourself offended by this, please feel free to pelt me with Chocolate Volcanos, Tartes Tatin, or any other dessert item of your choice.

[Mohammed cartoons]