Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dominating the news this week...

Some people do like to court danger, like Dr. Peter March. Having taken his "Introduction to Philosophy" course last year, I think that I can explain his mindset for displaying those naughty cartoons in his classroom. He is an agnostic, and as I recall, he does not believe in the concept of "ethics" (I'm not sure, though, what he means by that). I bought a copy of today's Daily News for some scrapbook material, since his picture is on the cover*. There's an editorial on page 2 in which the first sentence is "Peter March is an asshole." and it pretty much colours the entire article.** There is also an unflattering (yet strangely accurate) cartoon caricature of him on page 12***, I was thinking that he should probably stick those things alongside those cartoons.

I am trying to understand where Muslims are coming from, a couple of good resources to start with are from this lady from Slate, and Fareed Zakaria (he's usually a bit long). However, you have to wonder if the apparent rage and mob mentality is overhyped by the media, or not. It's hard to mistake some of the messages from some of the protesters, but is the hysteria and mob mentality intended to scare us? I don't know about you, but it's working at frightening me. Having said that, I am not one who takes kindly to intimidation, particularly from far away places and peoples. I may start making crude sketches of Mohammed when I have some idle time, even though I have a very rough idea of what he looks like.

Assuming that the cartoons in question are hate literature, it seems that you don't get such widespread reaction from Jews, Christians, black people, or anyone else. Sure they get angry at racial and religious attacks, but you almost never hear about any unruly mobs from Jewish or Christian groups. Maybe in isolated incidents once in a blue moon, but they do not fly off the handle at some particular hate literature, not like that. There may be riots over someone actually dying, but not over some poorly chosen words and pictures. Back to Dr. March, he is certainly making news, almost hourly now. I'm not sure what his motives are, but he does seem to be making a stand against these widespread intimidation tactics. I do not speak to or for people who see images of Muslims rioting on television and assume that that's what they're all about, but the Muslims must learn to understand, there are limits as to how they can express their own beliefs. Some lines have to be drawn, as I implied two posts down. If you are going to make a big deal out of some silly cartoons, don't expect us to be intimidated or indifferent about your raw emotions. If anything, you should probably expect the opposite reaction from some of us. In the West, we have a saying, "Actions speak louder than words."

Update: *Link **Link ***Link
I saw a live interview with Dr. March and a Muslim student protester on CTV Newsnet. It'll probably be shown again and again, but the thing that stood out for me was when March compared the cartoons to other offensive materials such as pornography for the Criminology courses they have at Saint Mary's, and the other guy used what I believe to be a "straw man" argument, saying that the Prophet "Is not a rapist." March didn't say he was, and he kept his cool and let him talk. I'm not sure if I would have let him get away with misquoting me like that.

1 comment:

Dave Olie said...

I used to know Peter March quite well. I was a regular in his ?philosophy busk? which he held weekly in a mall in Halifax in the early ?90s. Wayne Rostadt did a segment on the busk for his ?On The Road Again? TV show.
When I first heard the reports about the ?St. Mary?s philosophy professor? who posted the cartoons on his office door, I figured it was probably Peter. It came as no surprise to find I was right.
Peter is a bit of a self-promoter. No problem with that; I?m a bit of one myself. I think posting the cartoons on his door was dumb, as some have pointed out, because that?s not the venue for a debate, which is what he wants, and likes.
But I give him credit for taking it to his classroom, and being present at the protest march, and for giving out his address. I think these cartoons are a poor reason for having the debate of free speech vs. religion, but I give him props for stepping up.

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