“Innocence of Muslims:”
The tragic violence of the past week saddens me and I suppose saddens almost everybody.  Since I am not inclined to take up political or religious causes, this is far off topic.  Why I should address the issue I shall mention in the end.  For once I shall try to get to the point at the beginning. 

A preview (I guess they call them “trailers” now for reasons that escape me) apparently was released on YouTube some time ago, but on the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy there were suddenly many protests against it, some violent, some even deadly.  The protests seem to be because the bit of cine drama deliberately insults Islam and commits blasphemy by Islamic standards in depicting Mohammed himself. 

The Western world finds it all rather hard to believe.  The production is not good.  Without the protests it would be just another bit of garbage on the internet.  But impassioned people are not obliged to follow the dictates of logic. 

Western journalists are, however, expected to use some logic, and they have failed to mention three things that have struck me.  In all fairness I must point out that it was a journalist who found an expert that did say something that had not occurred to me.  These protesters by and large have lived all their lives in countries where free expression is not assured and generally not even tolerated.  If a movie is made in one of those countries it is assumed to be with the approval of the government if not actually the doing of the government.  The fact that President Obama cannot simply order the film to be suppressed is something they do not expect and quite likely do not even believe it if told.  But think about it.  The president claims, unchallenged, the right to have anybody he likes, citizen or not, in the US or not, killed without judicial review and without even reporting what he has done.  All he has to do is breathe the word, “Terrorist,” and he has a free hand.  There is no requirement that he present any evidence to anybody that the person is even a terrorist.  And this man with absolute power over your life cannot say, “That’s embarrassing.  It is against our national interest.  People are getting killed because of it.  Just stop it,” and expect cooperation. 

I took the liberty of looking at the clip.  Three things struck me that must have struck almost anybody.  First, it is not your usual hate mail.  It does not drip venom.  It is deliberately insulting, deliberately sacrilegious, but more or less in the tone of a child sticking his or her tongue out.  Sticking your tongue out is, of course an insult.  And it carries the message, “I insult you and I freely admit I am insulting you with no consideration for truth, justice or good taste.  I suppose it is rather like the extension of the middle finger for Americans.  That is not so say that this does not draw anger or that it is forgivable.  But it is very routine.  Americans are amazingly mean spirited much of the time.  We develop thick hides.  If you hold something sacred you can expect to see it insulted in public just about as soon as anybody notices.  And really hateful things happen a lot. 

The second thing I noticed was that this clip is offensive to more than Muslims.  There is a scene in which Mohammed decides to convert a donkey to Islam.  The donkey is flanked by a couple that look a lot like popular depictions of Mary and Joseph.  Indeed Mohammed looks a lot like popular depictions of Jesus.  In case the point was lost on you, behind the couple there are a couple of bits of wood that seem to be supports for a tent or two but they just happen to be a large cross.  Perhaps it is not sacrilegious to bring Mary into an environment that features sadism, perversion and pornography (well it comes pretty close to porn at one point) but placing her there in a subordinate role to a donkey, I think a Christian would probably agree that this is sacrilege.  (So far as I can tell, the difference between sacrilege and blasphemy is how mad you are.)

The insult to Judaism is more subtle.  (Did I say subtle in reference to this crude, slap-stick piece of nastiness?  But attend.)  At one point Mohammed is confronted by a patriarch looking man and says, “But we aren’t as bad as Judaism.  God told Joshua to kill every man woman and child in Jericho.  We don’t do that,” or words to that effect.  The patriarch replies, “But he gave them four hundred years.  And there were never forced conversions to Judaism and never extortion.”  Mohammed is being depicted as a clown, so of course for dramatic purposes he loses the exchange.  But looking back at it, one point is irrelevant and the other two were alternatives.  Joshua just killed the people.  You may think that the treatment of Jericho was regrettable or necessary under the conditions, but defending the act with lame excuses like that is simply insulting. 

The third thing I notice is that nobody mentions that the American system does not leave you without recourse if you have been profoundly insulted.  Defamation of character might not be illegal per se but is certainly actionable.  Smear somebody’s good name, and you can expect to be sued for your eye teeth.  And woe betide you if your insult is not – as in this case it is not – the truth and provable as such.  I am told by expert opinion that wrongful death can result in a lawsuit, but the penalties are for more severe in defamation cases. 

If Mohammed were alive he could have the clip suppressed and impoverish everybody who was connected with it.  Being dead, of course he cannot go to court.  But if people are really so offended, they can still sue for pain and suffering, anguish, grief or whatever they feel that is bad.  That does not say that the success of such a suit would be a foregone conclusion.  That would have to be decided in a court of law.  I can understand how people who are not familiar with the way Americans do things might overlook this.  But the journalists are supposed to know.  Obama can’t get the clip pulled, but a free citizen, if he can make his case, can get it pulled. 

So why am I all lit up about this, which is none of my business and certainly is not a fertility issue?  Many years ago I was a Democrat.  My family had been, and I went with the momentum.  But as an adult I realized that veterans of the Viet Nam war were suffering terribly.  Nobody else seemed to care.  But ultimately it was the Republicans who took an interest.  So I changed parties in acknowledgement of this bit of humanity.  Within a few years a Republican senator arranged for me to be invited to join the then new Republican Presidential Roundtable.  I thought that would be wonderful.  If something as important as the veterans ever came up again I would have a chance at the ear of power.  It was ruinously expensive, but I gritted my teeth figuring that if it saved a couple of years for an issue that important, then that counted for more than my own financial security. 

A few more years and I came up with the Mesopotamian data I have referred to.  That seemed to me to be close enough to absolute truth that it would command attention.  Within a few months a call went out to the members that there would be a meeting in October, the issue being, “Now we have won the election, what do you think we should take an interest in?”  Bingo.  That was exactly why I had been invited and exactly why I had joined.  I went to the appointed place at the appointed time and found no meeting.  It was 2001.  The Trade Center had fallen.  The meeting had been canceled.  The Republican agenda was fixed and I was out of luck.  As I walked though the empty halls, I neither saw nor smelled tear nor smoke, but the sense of them was pervasive.  I would have to seek my goal by other means. 

I studied, I attended genetics conferences, I worked on computer programs, I contacted many people, I opened this web site.  For a long time the traffic was very light.  Then it seemed to take off.  The number of visitors to the site started up and continued up.  Growth was exponential, then greater than exponential.  Within two more years I would be able to consider myself to be an authentic voice. 

Then came the Arab Spring.  Our puppet governments, if indeed that’s what they were, dictators anyway, started falling in the Arab world.  It was heady stuff.  And the stuffing went out of my appeal.  The site has been in genteel decline ever since.  Islam had blocked me again. 

So I girded my loins, sucked in my gut and decided to put more effort into the site; I would post messages daily.  Within days we got the Innocence of Muslims protests.  They did it again.

One could get superstitious.

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