Tolerance

Caught in a pincer movement

This is an interesting post that attempts to interpret the cartoons from a Danish perspective. Be warned that it stretches in places… particularly with the ‘that bomb in the turban is an orange’ theory.

This post at DailyKos does a lot to explain the timing of the suddenly widespread outrage.

Both of these links come via this post at just another Cranky Little Blog, which brings to light a point that I’ll get onto to in a mo…

Observer – A few bad cartoons are no reason to fall out: Both sides are spoiling for a fight on this one and there is a fair amount of unattractive posturing. When push comes to shove, I have to say that I would take a lot more notice of the outrage in the Middle East if I had not come across dozens of anti-semitic cartoons published in the Arab press. The striking part of Arabic Jew-baiting is that it is as prevalent, nasty and dehumanising as it ever was in Nazi Germany. Newspapers published in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and UAE all use demonic images of stereotypical Jews (big nose, black coat and hat and laden with money bags) pulling the strings behind the scenes in US politics, buying political influence and spreading death, terror and disease. Josef Goebbels would have felt quite at home reading these newspapers. They are unacceptable and would, if published here, cause an outrage equal to last week’s, but this does not seem to have occurred to the Muslim spokesman or clerics that I have heard on the subject. I am not sure if there is an equivalence between racism and blasphemy, other than in effect, but I do know that we both have to move towards each other on these issues.

Now, back to that point, initially raised by The Religious Policeman (permalink is borked, sorry, but there’s an earlier and equally interesting read here if you need a landmark to start from):

The official reaction of British officialdom – precisely nothing! – illustrates how successful we have been over the years in getting them to accept the “Principle of Asymmetry”. In other words, we use their sense of “fair play”, “multiculturalism”, “democratic values”, and of course their guilt feelings, against them, so that they restrict their own freedom of action, but are very lax when dealing with the Muslim, for fear of offense or violent reaction. This of course confuses and demoralizes the ordinary person-in-the-street, and weakens their resistance to the onward march of the Ummah.

Well, I wouldn’t say precisely nothing. I’m sure that action will be taken now The Scum are engaging in some pre-trial by media with some ‘name them and shame them’ fun: Above are the faces of hate that shame the religion of Islam. Contorted with anger and preaching violent revenge, they have insulted millions of decent people in Britain with their vile actions. All the fanatics have achieved is to show their hatred of democracy and free speech. Today The Sun calls on its readers to name and shame them.

Heh. This brings to mind this Sun editorial from Thursday 2nd Feb that I neglected to blog at the time: The Sun is not printing in full the cartoons that have caused uproar in Europe and the Middle East. We have two reasons. First, the cartoons are intended to insult Muslims, and The Sun can see no justification for causing deliberate offence to our much-valued Muslim readers. Second, the row over the cartoons is largely a manufactured one. They were printed first in a Danish dispute over free speech. The Sun believes passionately in free speech, but that does not mean we need to jump on someone else’s bandwagon to prove we will not be intimidated. It does seem ridiculous, though, that mayhem is breaking out over a handful of cartoons. Can we all get real.

Yes, let’s do get real. Let’s begin with the phrase “The Sun can see no justification for causing deliberate offence to our much-valued Muslim readers”…

Perhaps this sensitivity to their many, many Muslim readers is the reason why there has been no Page 3 editorial on this subject yet…

;o)

There’s a more comprehensive report on the actions of our moral guardians here.

Let’s move on now, as there’s a fight underway, and the clear priority for any responsible political body is to gain ground…

Talk Politics – Follow the white rabbit: And of course, dear old Jack Straw is pushed out front and centre to make just the right kind of placatory noises to suit the occasion, while, behind the scenes, the spin doctors are already working overtime to figure out just how much political capital they can make out of TV news footage of brown-faced people with placards demanding that those who mock Islam should be ‘butchered’ and chanting about ‘Bin Laden coming’ for the government’s next run at forcing through some more crappy, illiberal, authoritarian anti-terrorist legislation – let’s face it, you can bet your arse that all this is going to come up when the government have to try to get last year’s anti-terrorist legislation, with its appalling ‘control orders’ renewed.

Well said. Now, onto other ground-gainers…

The Sun – ‘Bomb’ nut: I’d do it again: (Omar) Khayam, a building student from Bedford, told the Sun last night: “I’ve done nothing wrong.” Amazingly, he added: “I wasn’t trying to appear like a terrorist at all. Yes I was on the protest but I didn’t even carry any placards or shout any slogans. I can’t believe all the attention that I’ve received as I didn’t consider it such a big thing. I admit that it may have appeared in a bit of a military style and a bit provocative but that’s not illegal in this country.”

Guardian – Arrest extremist marchers, police told: Protesters in London who carried placards threatening suicide bombings and massacres in revenge for the Danish cartoons satirising the prophet Muhammad are to be investigated by Scotland Yard and could face arrest. Metropolitan police are considering the options after the demonstrations at the end of last week. A flurry of cross-party calls by MPs came at the weekend to pursue those responsible on the grounds that the threats were an incitement to murder. The slogans, written in the same style and in similar black felt-tip pen ink, urged Muslims to use violence. A protester was also photographed wearing a garment resembling a suicide bomber’s jacket. The man, Omar Khayam from Bedford, said he had no regrets about his style of dress, telling the Daily Express: “I didn’t go there to cause anyone any harm. I went along just to attend a protest. Yet I have been branded a suicide bomber overnight. Did I say, ‘Kill Jews?’ No. Did I have racist signs on me? No. So why this reaction?” He went on: “Yes, I would do it again to make a point. I could have gone along and held up banners or something, but this made the point better.”

1. Dear Omar… I beg to differ. This is precisely the kind of thing that’s bound to be misinterpreted and used as collateral by both of the parties that have hijacked your religion for political purposes.. even if you left the house that day aiming to look ‘merely military’. I’m not arguing with your point (which remains unclear) or your right to make it, but I think your judgement is lacking.

2. If an arrest is to be made over the offending placards, the police should start with the one person who created them.

CuriousHamster – Pens and Swords: Be aware, however, that the extremists who took part in those protests knew exactly what they were doing. They most definitely do want to create a clash of civilisations. The central pillar of the strategy is an attempt to deliberately provoke Western society in order to generate a response which can then be represented as a hatred of all Muslims. This response, they hope, will alienate moderate Muslims and leave them with no choice but to support the extremists and their clash of cultures. This is the same strategy used by bin Laden and his supporter. It is the central motive behind the attacks on New York. The aim was to generate Western hatred and suspicion of all Muslims which the extremists can then use to their advantage. Those who proclaim that the extremists at the protest on Friday represent the views of most Muslims will be playing into their hands. It’s not true but if you say it often enough, it might be one day. Those Muslims who are reacting in an extreme fashion are behaving outrageously. It’s almost enough to make me bring out the gimp and make some offensive images myself. But that, as I said, would be just what the extremists want us to do. I for one, have no intention of playing ball.

The Muhammad Cartoons

'PR Stunt'Guardian – Anger as papers reprint cartoons of Muhammad:
Newspapers in France, Germany, Spain and Italy yesterday reprinted caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, escalating a row over freedom of expression which has caused protest across the Middle East. France Soir and Germany’s Die Welt published cartoons which first appeared in a Danish newspaper, although the French paper later apologised and apparently sacked its managing editor. The cartoons include one showing a bearded Muhammad with a bomb fizzing out of his turban.

Stephen Bates: (But) what we cannot have, according to tradition, is a graven image. There is no explicit ban in the Qur’an, but to picture him would be to annexe God’s creative power and to attempt to depict the sublime. No human being, one correspondent told the writer Malise Ruthven, can ever depict the beauty and grandeur of his countenance.

Which leads us into the whole issue of idolatry (which us Christian folk neatly stepped around with an icon or two).

Leerdammer has some examples of the cartoons here.

This wider collections shows that some include commentary by cartoonists on the exercise itself (one of which I’ve included here on the right because it’s my very favourite).

There’s lots of discussion over at Media Watch Watch, which leads us to the question; how different is this to the Jerry Springer: The Opera issue? (Note – There’s more, but onto that in a mo.)

Well, the big difference appears to be as follows:

Christian activists extremists had to do a lot of lying, leading and spinning in order to portray JS:TO as deliberately offensive/provocative… but I would argue that the cartoons in this collection that equate Islam with terror live up to this description without the need for intensive fact-massage.

To state or suggest that Muslim=terrorist is a grossly irresponsible – and incorrect – thing to do. (Strange; I’ve just had the most extraordinary sense of deja vu.)

Discussions on the basis of this god, that god, a god or The God don’t even enter into it.

In fact, I think what we have here is an important precedent in the ongoing Free Speech Vs. Yelling ‘Fire!’ debate… and here to help prove that is this charming fellow who chooses two ‘terror and sword’ cartoons from the collection to headline his ‘Home for Muslim offensive art!’ (NSFW).

With *that* said and noted, now we can go back to the Media Watch Watch post, which says: Meanwhile, Danish Muslim leaders who have been touring the world explaining how offensive the cartoons are have actually added three cartoons to the original twelve: one depicting Mohammed as a paedophile demon, one of him with the snout of a pig, and another of a praying Muslim being sodomised by a dog. The origin of the extra three cartoons is unknown, but they are sure to stir up a bit of hatred. Which, of course, is the whole point.

Think about it; you equate this faith with terrorism, which prompts confusion and anger from those who belong to it… this then allows those who wish to enforce the Muslim=terrorist message to point their grubby fingers and yell; “Y’see! The religion of peace strikes again!” as extremists from the other side…. Gah! Can I stop looking now, please?

It’s not big, and it’s not clever… and you really have to ask yourself if there aren’t two sets of bullies on the warpath here.

Slinging Ink has a call to bloggers here, asking you to reproduce and share the cartoons, and even includes some Jehovah and Jesus jokes for balance.

Hm. I’m not so sure that this is a good idea, but I totally agree on the idea of balance, and I think I have just the cartoon for those who may wish to address matters of free speech and blasphemy, but at the same time distance themselves from extremists on either side:

Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together welcome to the stage… Mr Gary Larson.

UPDATE – Meanwhile…

UPDATE – See also…

UPDATE – I’d like to second this from the Disillusioned kid: If any of you are looking for a simplistic black and white response to this controversy I’m afraid you’ll be sorely disappointed. (I’m sure you’ll be able to find plenty of them elsewhere, mind.) Our mission (should we chose to accept it) is to defend freedom of speech while doing everything we can to scupper the plans of those who would abuse it to peddle their racist dross. Same as ever really.

(Sorry Atopian, I know there’s a fight to be fought, but I reserve my right to prioritise strategically and address the source of any given fire.)

Guido, the Monkey, and the elephant’s trunk

Blood & Treasure and Never Trust a Hippy have also expressed their distaste at the inaugural/beta ‘Guido & The Monkey’ podcast. The latter link is especially interesting, as the comments contain the oft-repeated sleep-enhancing defence from Recess Monkey that the broadcast was satire and not gossip (along with the suggestion that the offending blogger might be a racist because he once linked to Doogle).

This, the primary defence (so far), assures us all that the podcast also contained references to Lembit Opik being hit by an asteroid and MI5 arranging to kidnap Leo Blair. Therefore the double-paedo joke can be dismissed as satire.

(Though, strangely, the items about the Oaten outing have clearly been categorised by Recess Monkey as ‘gossip’. Oh, and Guido’s initial defence was ‘tittle-tattle’ was what we should expect from him, so please shut the hell up.)

Guido & Recess Monkey appear to have gotten this ‘satire’ story straight from late Monday afternoon onwards. Also, Guido (Mr ‘Never Explain! Never Apologise!’) backed off from his ‘scoop’ claims and instead seems to be suggesting that their gossip satire just happened to pass from the podcast to Popbitch, then to NOTW. (See comments here, where the ‘you should expect tittle-tattle’ defence makes a repeat appearance.)

Let’s go to the podcast, then…

Following a claim from Recess Monkey that Charles Kennedy once took an unscheduled trouser-dump whilst in a state of inebriation (gossip, in other words), Guido came out with yet more gossip; “I do remember about three years ago, a cleaner in Portcullis House… finding over the summer, a shitty pair of pants and a hard helmet in an MPs desk drawer.”

From here it moved to a suggestion that the pants belonged to Charles Kennedy. Finally, we hit what might pass as a meagre seam of unrefined satire… but gossip formed the bulk of the piece. And Mark Oaten was *not* mentioned in the poo-piece; he was only mentioned in the paedo-pieces. Nevertheless, it was the poo-piece that filtered through Popbitch and – having been edited by someone who monitored the discussion on the boards – made it to the most recent Popbitch newsletter in this form:

What people are asking this week

Which Lib Dem wannabe leader used to be
a regular visitor to a brothel in Paddington
where he used to pay girls to shit in their
knickers for him, and would then put the
dirty pants in his briefcase and take them home?

Girls? Ick.

Now, on the subject of ‘ick’, there seems to be a level of ‘certainty’ about poo-games, mainly due to NOTW going to print with the fill-in-the-blanks claim that Mark Oaten; “got the rent boys to humiliate him with a bizarre sex act too revolting to describe”.

Blood & Treasure have expressed doubts about the subsequent poo-rumours, as any specific assumptions of this nature are based on a very old piece of gossip. Guido & Recess Monkey both note the vintage of this rumour in the offending podcast.

Still, smoke is smoke, fire is fire and poo is funny. But the hamster hints work in well with Recess Monkey’s continued reference to the ex-shadow-cabinet member as “Mark ‘Hamster’ Oaten” and…. Oh, it’s all so confusing. It’s almost as if someone is gossiping so much that – sooner or later – they are bound to hit poo-dirt.

No matter. It does nothing to change this:

When Guido asked us of the podcast; ‘Did it hint enough?’ he claimed to be acting with foreknowledge of at least some aspect of the Oaten story when recording it. And the possibility that he might have equated homosexuality with child molestation did not occur to him, or did not occur to him as a priority… even after the fact.

Did he say; “Given the revelation that Mark Oaten is bisexual, the paedo-jokes may have been ill-advised.”…. ?

No, he did not. Instead he spent most of Monday morning having a go at the ‘politically correct crowd’.

Did he say; “We didn’t know it was Oaten who liked brown and sticky souvenirs… too bad we wasted all our time telling paedo-jokes about him.”…. ?

No, he did not. Instead he and the Recess Monkey seemed to gloat that there was no way that Oaten would be able to sue them.

Now, is this because it’s perfectly legitimate in their view to infer that being homosexual/bisexual automatically makes you a paedophile? After all, the only references to Mark Oaten in this podcast related to his alleged status as a kiddie-fiddler.

Is it perhaps that they are now free-and-clear on the poo-game claims? Erm, good luck with that one. The relevant claims in the podcast included no reference to Mark Oaten. Oh, and these claims have not made it to print and have not been admitted to by Mark Oaten. Oh, and Charles Kennedy may be wanting a word with them about Monkey’s earnest claim that he once soiled himself whilst inebriated.

Is it maybe that Mark Oaten is in a vulnerable position and so – while being technically able to sue – is unlikely to do so? Bingo. I think we’re on a winner here – but none of these scenarios have Guido and Recess Monkey coming out smelling like roses.

As many people noted even before the Oaten outing, making repeated suggestions – without grounds – that someone is a paedophile is itself more than a little bit off… and quite possibly actionable.

And, for the record, you do *not* have to be a hand-wringing leftie to – upon discovering that a man is homosexual/bisexual and/or has been outed as such – immediately think that making paedo jokes about that individual just a few days before *may* have been just a *tad* unfortunate.

Inferring – even accidentally – that being homosexual makes you a paedophile is totally unacceptable.

One would expect – at least – that this would (a) occur and then (b) prompt an apology after the fact.

But this thought didn’t appear to occur to either of them. Further, they both seemed confident enough to boast about having played a role in Oaten’s outing.

No fear, no regret, no mention.

It is possible to be a homophobe and be blissfully unaware of it, you know.

(UPDATE – Even better, Guido seems to think that his best defence on this front is outing a homophobe.)

Sadly, even if Jarndyce is spot on with his ‘Scenario One’ (that Guido is having himself on about the ‘scoop’), the damage is done. Monday’s sexperts have already shown their true colours and their behaviour – not only in the podcast, but in the brag, attack and defence that followed – casts them in an extremely negative light. Even an admission or correction will – at this stage – be too little, too late.

Not that I think you should expect such a thing. That would be a sign of ‘weakness’, you see.

No, best to carry on as if all is right and good. And if anyone brings it up again, you can dismiss it as old news. Or perhaps fire a shot or two at the messenger.

In other words, the ‘champions’ of political mockery/accountability are playing Blair’s game.

Speaking of which…. if Guido and Recess Monkey really want to impress us, they can stop stomping on minnows and instead take on sharks like Blair and Straw; politicians who seem to think that it’s acceptable to have broken bottles inserted into rectums in order to ‘win’ the ‘war’ on terror.

Come on, fellas! This story has legs, appeal, importance, *and* bum-fun! How can you ignore it?

Surely someone with your connections and willingness to ‘take on’ politicians can dig up one document or another and publish without fear?

No?

Now, is that because you lack the will, the connections, or the guts?

Inquiring minds want to know.

(PS – The link to Guido’s blog has now been removed from my nav-bar. There are quite a few people under ‘associates’ that I don’t always see eye-to-eye with, but when I say ‘unacceptable’ I mean ‘unacceptable’…)

UPDATE – doctorvee – Oaten blogging roundup/timeline

“Our legal advice is that Mark Oaten is not a paedophile.”

Guido – Its The Pod What Did It: Wednesday night, a few drinks, a digital recorder, Guido and a drunken Monkey. A beta podcast for a select few emailed on Thursday. Those of you who heard the podcast will know why Guido is smirking. Did it hint enough? We posted the feedback responses over at GuidoandtheMonkey.Com Thursday and Friday. Popbitch (the home of webmongs, gayers and unemployed freelance journos) referred to the libellous nature of the podcast. Anyway it was in the public domain Thursday, “bloggers are making jokes about it”, and coincidentally the News of the Screws swoops…

Recess Monkey – A good job he likes a bit of humiliation: To all those that counselled me a few days ago that I would be sued by Mark Oaten; please feel free to eat your hats.

Europhobia – Oaten outing follow-up: Still can’t quite get my head around what the point of this whole outing thing was… Guido claims the scoop, anyway. Not much to be proud of, I’d have thought, destroying the life of a minor politician and doubtless his family to boot… Still, Guido’s commentors seem to be having fun – latent homophobia or just the repression of wishing they had the guts to hire some arse themselves?

CuriousHamster – Joining the Dots: Oaten’s role in Blair’s blackest day might have already been forgotten by most people in the country. That he was once high on the Sun’s list of traitors may also be forgotten. I tell you what though. I bet I can name at least two other people in this country who do remember. Can you guess? OK, here’s a clue. Their initials are TB and RW.

Chicken Yoghurt – Oaten: What a bloody disgrace. Does this kind of thing really still sell newspapers? In the 21st century? Are people really that lacking in their own lives? What the hell has this got to do with anyone except Oaten and his family (including two daughters who have to go to school tomorrow)? What Oaten did was wrong, yes. But within the confines of his marriage. To say he’s been politically naive is an understatement but that’s not a hanging offence yet either. It seems Oaten has enough problems without the moral adjudicators of a Murdoch newspaper stirring the pot… None other than Guido Fawkes himself is claiming Oaten’s corpse. He says he outed Oaten in a drunken podcast that made its way as far as that august journal of public morality, Popbitch. He also gives some self-serving, arse-covering excuse about Oaten having been hypocritical over the Government’s plans for prostitution. If this is the kind of thing bloggers need to do to get noticed then I for one want no part of it. And if this turns out to be the first stripe British bloggers earn (“British bloggers claim first scalp”), it will have been scrawled with a turd.

DoctorVee – Who said blogging was an antidote to the MSM?: I like Guido’s and Recess Monkey’s blogs. But I wish they would stick with the jokes and jibes rather than this privacy-invading sub-tabloid tittle-tattle.

Jarndyce – Piggy-backing on Oaten, but he was drunk, mind: Look, look at me everybody. Go on, look. LOOK. It’s another one of my scoops that I break fucking ages after it’s broken somewhere else. And look, mummy, I caught one of those nasty bummers this time. Yes, mummy, a horrid, sordid little homo. But I nailed him. I really gave it to him. Roasted the little bastard. Skewered him. His daughters, too. So, pleeeease look. Pleeease. Puh-leeeease.

I’m equally depressed and disappointed by this… and I agree that Guido and Recess Monkey don’t have a lot to be proud of.

Topical as they may have been, the paedo jokes in the podcast that formed the bulk of the ‘obvious’ hints send an insidious message. You should also note that Guido and Recess Monkey make a point of revisiting the same joke/message twice:

GUIDO & MONKEY 19 JAN PODCAST – (02:33):

“Can you imagine if you were sitting at home watching Big Brother or something and Mark Oaten rings you up, saying ‘Please, can I have your support?’. It’s like… ‘Yeah, just fuck off, and stay away from my kids.’”

“Is he the creepiest Lib-Dem candidate?”

“Yeah, I think he is. Yeah, he’s definitely gay*.”

“Wouldn’t want him near school playground.”

(jokes about pallid complexions and comb-overs, then a change of subject)

“Anyway… Leo.”

“I don’t think Mark Oaten has touched Leo.”

[*This word is talked over... but it was formed of one syllable, began with a strong 'g' and rhymed with 'hey'. Perhaps they said he was definitely 'grey'? As in pallid? Works for me Your Honour.]

[UPDATE - Here you go; judge for yourself (23kb WMA). Back to the show... seven minutes later... same gag all over again.]

GUIDO & MONKEY 19 JAN PODCAST – (09:08):

“Do you know what? I would be quite concerned if I saw him hanging around outside a playground.”

“He does have the look of a paedo about him.”

(laughter, then, in a put-on voice…)

“Our legal advice is that Mark Oaten is not a paedophile.”

(change of subject)

“Ah, Leo Blair…”

“No, I don’t think Mark Oaten’s ever been touching Leo…”

Message: If you are a homosexual, you are a pervert. Therefore, no perversion is beneath you. Ipso facto (conspectus procto) if you are a homosexual, you are also a kiddie-fiddler. (Also, there is no such thing as a bisexual. A bisexual is simply a homosexual who hasn’t made his or her mind up yet… between men, women and children, that is.)

It’s a compelling argument (made even more compelling by use of the word ‘rent-boy’ to describe a 23-year-old man), and it’s one echoed by many of those who claim to be our moral guardians, but Guido & Recess Monkey should be warned that it is unlikely to stand up in court.

UPDATE – Before making the script for the podcast, this view was aired by Guido on Jan 9th: “Oaten? A slaphead who most mothers would feel uneasy seeing near a playground.”

But he’s never at the meetings…

Guardian – Tory rituals: No. 2,384
The Scum – Fox dismisses gay smears

Guido notes here that it’s been a major cause for concern at everyone’s favourite shouty-blog.

Dennis Paul II

You’ve met Dennis Paul before… he produced this impressive pamphlet for the impoverished persons of Guildford.

Now he has an unregulated online discussion room (read here or post here) that has – surprise, surprise – been detected and abused by spambots. His reaction was to blame this inevitable intrusion on “Lib Dem spammers”… before swiftly deleting the offending entry.

He is a nice man, and has further plans for the good people who live in my area. You may wish to spend some time getting to know him.

Behzti

Ben comments on the play at a Birmingham theatre had to be cancelled following violent protests from Sikhs. This will lead you to this excellent post at Harry’s Place and news that the play’s writer has gone into hiding following death threats.

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