Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
February 12, 2006
Freedom vs. JusticeThe past two weeks have brought about a devastating example of people who are single minded in their focus. The situation that presently exists in the Middle East with respect to the “desecration” of the prophet Mohammed through a cartoon, has again brought the world on the brink of danger. What exactly is the problem here? Unless we take the time to step back and examine, in depth, the crux of the matter, we will never be able to justify either side.
As Americans we have been taught that we have God given rights as well as Constitutional rights given to us through our Bill of Rights. Among others, they include the freedom of Speech and the Freedom of Press. As children we were brought up to respect these rights but we have also been taught from the beginning that our Rights end when they infringe on other people’s rights. For example, we cannot feel free to speak freely if we are belittling another person and damaging their dignity and reputation. This is a very basic principle of Freedoms.
The recent episode of printing cartoon figures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed seems to fall in this category. Why is it that the well educated countries of Europe do not seem to understand what is happening? They initially made the faux-pas of printing a cartoon. When it was not well received, instead of stopping and apologizing for their insensitivity, they stood their ground and defended themselves as if their national laws carried weight world wide. If one of our children acted in this manner we would take them aside and have a heart to heart talk with them. Hopefully, we would not encourage them to continue.
Europeans are probably taken aback by the “outlandish” reaction of the Muslim world. Why are they so upset about such a small thing, they wonder? This tells us a great deal about our brothers and sisters in Europe, doesn’t it? Insulting a religious figure is a small thing to most Europeans because a great percentage of the European population is totally secular. The churches in Europe are virtually empty. The people have stopped believing and religion has become obsolete for them. Thus they are out of touch with people who are believers.
Secondly, Europeans are intellectually developed. They live with a certain sophistication that is not shared by two thirds of the world population. Again, they have lost touch with other people not sharing their “world”. This is not to say that Muslims are all illiterate. But it is probably safe to say that there are large pockets of population that only have an elementary level of education. The level of poverty in many Muslim lands is partially to blame for this.
Who’s fault will it be if more trouble erupts? Of course it will be the fault of the poorer, less educated, less powerful Muslims who have no other means of maintaining their dignity and respect but to defend themselves by retaliation. Surely, it cannot be the fault of someone whose intellectual sophistication and national freedom laws legally allow them to innocently publish inflammatory cartoons. Everyone can see that.
Is this a ridiculous situation or this a true matter of Justice being ignored? Are our poorer, less educated brothers and sisters worthy of respect or do we all have the right to be insensitive to their rights and beliefs?
Lorette P. Nault