I believe all three of you [Take it easy, Jahanshah Javid and Saman] have some common ground. But you may be missing one important point on what constitutes intolerance or satire that is the relative potency and worth of signals being communicated.
Saman is only half-right that this piece of satire should be "tolerated" but the lack of such toleration is not a sign of backwardness of Iranians. Let me as the question that actually came up (but was completely whitewashed by the Western media) when the Mohammad Cartoons surfaced:
If Mohammad Cartoons are OK? Why isn't a conference on the Holocaust OK?
The point is not whether the Holocaust or the Mohammad cartoons are OK or not. Obviously they are offensive and many think they are not OK.
The point is artists/writers/speakers should not be killed or threatened in any way by religious or state officials of any country or creed.
I have not seen any death sentences issued by leaders of the Jewish faith or Israeli officials in response to the Holocaust cartoons published and displayed in Iran.
Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonist on the other hand received actual death threats from Islamic leaders, including our very own Khomeini, founder and leader of the Islamic Revolution AND the Islamic Republic of Iran. Can't get any more official than that.
Cartoons, by nature, are offensive. Some of them are very very offensive. But there are none that deserve murder and physical violence against the artist.
Before we can even argue about how far free speech can go, we must first agree that murder and physical violence are ABSOLUTELY unacceptable reactions to any form of EXPRESSION. I can yell at these offensive writers and artists, draw cartoons of their children being raped by blood sucking zionists, or demand my government to impose economic sanctions on the country where the offense took place.
I can do anything I want to show my fuming rage against a cartoonist or writer for whatever he or she may have done --except I cannot kill or throw a punch.
I ask Saman if he is willing to make a satirical piece about the Holocaust or about say, the Khorramshahr invasion glorifying Saddam Hussein? Will JJ publish such a piece under the banner of "tolerance"?
Again, the question is not to publish offensive material or not, but the reaction to any sort of publication. The reaction -- calls for murder and violence -- shown by many Islamic leaders, especially in Iran, towards the publication of anti-Islamic material has been far more offensive than the actual books or cartoons that sparked them.
Publishing something may or may not be OK according to different tastes and sensibilities. But murder and violence is NEVER an OK response to any form of expression and just because an ayatollah says its OK because somewhere in the Qoran says its OK and therefore God says its OK... Then it's OK to kill someone for what they said or filmed or published?
No. It's never ever ever OK.
What about a piece showing Barak Obama as a Monkey, isn't that Satire? Would you draw/publish such a cartoon? So please, let's not reduce this to a simple formula of "tolerance." Think about the consequences of what you are saying.
Consequence of what I'm saying? Let's see what would happen if I published Barak Obama as a monkey:
Many readers would boycott this site, for obvious good reasons. But no one in the U.S. religious or government establishments would issue a death sentence against me. In fact the law here protects me from any kind of physical violence. I will not go to jail for publishing such a cartoon, but anyone who lifts a finger against me WILL go to jail.
Most people know the answer to my questions above is no. None of those examples are OK. People couch their answers in terms of "good taste" or "appropriateness" but the reality is that the signs embedded in those pieces are hurtful to a group of people, no matter how much of a "good sport" some of them are.
By contrast making fun of George Bush as a mad "cow boy" or Tony Blair as a "lapdog" is a lot more "OK" because the persons and groups being targeted have such high power status that they can afford to be tolerant of pointed criticism. They are not in danger of serious abuse and the messages don't hit home like it would if making fun of Holocaust or Mohammad Cartoons.
The political atmosphere allows enough security to justify such satire. Jews making fun of themselves on American TV, for example, is not threatening to their status on TV. But making fun of muslims or black people because of their race/religion is threatening to these groups perceisely because they are under siege in today's America by western Media. Similrly the issue of Holocaust is too dramatic and too painful to Israelis and the majority of the Western citizens who had to go through world war II only a generation ago.
This is why they were not amused by Tehran's holocaust cartoon conference, but they saw nothing wrong with the Mohammad cartoons. This is also why they were hypocrites.
Believe me, the Jews were not the only ones offended by the Holocaust exhibit in Tehran. The Holocaust was a human catastrophe, only Jews happened to be the main victims. Mass murder is mass murder whether against Jews, Cambodians or Iraqis. My problem with the holocaust exhibit was not the cartoons themselves. In fact most of them did not deny the holocaust or make fun of Jews, but were critical of Israel.
My problem was the Islamic Republic and its religious establishment are so childish and insecure that they feel the need to mobilize so much energy and resources just to show their anger against a single cartoon. I guess some people can't take a joke... and too often they are our own cowardly Islamic leaders who are experts at instigating the masses to commit violence.You wrote:
The right thing to do is to be tolerant of both sides.
The right thing to do is to respond in kind, with means of expression, not with murder or violence.
Saman made it clear this was satire in the actual cartoon and in his comment. But still, I'm willing to bet some part of NIAC was uncomfortable with it.
NIAC has been under siege from people calling them various forms of "Mullah lovers," after all.
Cartoons are there to make someone uncomfortable. Saman might get slapped around one day because he's asking for it all the time!!!! But at least no one has called for his death. I say that's progress, that's tolerance.
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