Saturday, February 04, 2006

"They don't hate us for our freedoms...it's...ah...our cartoons they can't stand"

The cartoontroversy (I promise to never use that word again) continues to spread, with the burning of Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus, Syria.

From that news story, we get a statement from the Vatican:

The Vatican deplored the violence but said certain provocative forms of criticism were unacceptable.

"The right to freedom of thought and expression ... cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers," the Vatican said in its first statement on the controversy.


The flippant response is that Jesus sure offended the religious sentiment of believers back in the day, but you can see where the Vatican is coming from. Although phrased poorly as a matter of "offense," which causes no actual "harm" and is entirely subjective, the Vatican obviously doesn't want to affirm the values of liberal democracy over religion.

And they shouldn't--for those that truly believe in Catholic doctrine, insofar as they believe it as religious truth, obviously it must take precedence over political ideals such as freedom of thought and expression.

Political ideals represent merely temporal expedients--ways to make life here on earth more palatable. Religious ideals represent the ways in which the temperal life is merely a means to affirming their faith and love in some Divine Creator. Therefore, religious ideals should never be subverted for temporal political expedients.

Which is all fine and dandy if you're a religion like Catholicism which hasn't lately burned an embassy over the finer points of theology. However, does the Vatican really wanna go religiously relativist and say that freedom of thought and expression don't entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers? Shouldn't they limit it to Catholics?

Does the Vatican realize that Muslims not only find depictions of Muhammed to be blasphemous (which is what this whole cartoontroversetc is about), but that it is also blasphemous to depict Jesus? So, there goes the crucifix. Don't want to offend other religious believers.

I guess the Vatican does have an out, logically. They can say that the crucifix doesn't offend Muslims based on a crucifix wearers freedom of thought or expression, but on deeply held religious beliefs, which can be a legitimate source of offense to others, religiously.

Which is all just to say, I guess, isn't this messed up?...burning the Danish embassy over a cartoon? I mean, I could understand if it was Family Circus--that insipid strip makes me feel like firebombing a third-degree burn clinic--but just depicting a bearded, probably unbathed, Muhammed? I don't know about that, man.

2 Comments:

Anonymous mkatherine29 said...

I think the Collegian should send me on assignment to the Vatican to cover this. You should arrange it.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Grant said...

Uh, i think I'm persona non grata down at Kedzie. i'm sure you got better connections than me. but I would be interested in hearing your opinion, and any sentiment you capture being abroad about this. I think it is incredibly important, and indicative of some deep civilizational ills which need to be sorted out. i'll write more on that later, hopefully, but I would like to hear your opinion.

1:09 PM  

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