The Evil Mohammad Cartoons

It was once the case that entertainment shows steered shy of controversial subjects. They did not want to stir the bad feelings that come with controversy, and there are few if any subjects that can be more controversial than religion and politics. When the forbidden subjects were approached, it was with a certain sophistication. (Mort Sahl used to ask, toward the end of his stand-up performance, if there were any groups he had failed to offend.)

These days, Comedy Central’s South Park gets most of its mileage from being coarsely unconventional, from attacking, through sarcasm and lots of bathroom humor, beliefs that people hold dear. They have scathingly treated Christians, Jews, Scientologists, political parties, etc., or so I’m told (I have not watched much of the show, but did see most of the segments relevant to the cartoon controversy). No political or religious viewpoint has been left unsatirized. Except one.

The South Park story, as I understand it, involved a cartoon Mohammad as one of the characters in their show; Comedy Central would not allow it to be shown. Their reason? It came down to fear, as admitted in their form letter to viewers who had written them about the omission. Comedy Central, as did most American media outlets, succumbed to fear of retaliation by Muslims.

Their fear is rationally based; after all, Muslims perpetrated enormous damage and even killings in their outrage over cartoon depictions of Mohammed. The threat of more of the same is real. As with the fatwa against Salmon Rushdie, when publishers and some booksellers reacted with fear to Muslim threats, the fault does not lie with those who succumbed. Much as I would have liked to see Comedy Central — and the general media — stand up to the threats they feel, it’s not my place to say how others should react when they fear for their property, their families, and their lives.

Where, oh where is our government in this affair? It seems omnipresent in regulating what we can eat, our health care and medicines, our communications and on, and on. When it comes to real, physical threat, the very thing the government is there to protect against, it is not to be heard from.

All of us, especially South Park with all its smutty obscenity, deserve to be protected by our government from physical harm. (After all, nobody threatens physical harm when they are not offended.) The Muslim threateners apparently know that they can threaten with impunity. Our government has repeatedly shown that it can be counted upon to appease rather than protect. Contrary to Muslim casuistry, it is not evil to show depictions of Mohammad (and it certainly won’t lead to idolatry, the Muslims’ professed fear). The relevant evil here is the knee-bending stance of our government.
–Ken

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Running, Swallows, & A Day of Changes

A lovely day — until 4:15 pm. I got in my first run of the year. Too much cold, snow and rain to do much any earlier. I have contented myself with “running” on the rebounder. It’s very different to get out and actually run, well, walk/run for two miles in about the same amount of time. But, it’s hardly the Boston Marathon, which also happened today. I’ll probably have sore ankles, calves and whatnot tomorrow.

Today the swallows returned! They come every year, of course. We have the violet-green variety. They seem to have a good time, wheeling through the sunshine and chattering to each other. They will nest in a couple of our bird houses.

Starlings are here now, too, but they aren’t nearly as much fun. The bluebirds cased the yard out a couple of months ago, as is their wont. They’ll probably move in shortly.

So, at 4:15 pm, we got a storm. Wind, rain, hail that covered the ground. The weather lady tells me to watch out for a hard freeze tonight, but that isn’t really so different from last night, when our thermometer registered 24 degrees Fahrenheit. Today we have gone from glorious warm sunshine to chilly, windy storm. It must be spring….
–Ken

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Illegal Immigrants

There is much to consider in the current controversy over immigration. I haven’t come to any hard and fast conclusions yet, but the hounds are out for the illegal immigrants, and I think many of them are barking up the wrong trees. (Pretty good — I got all the way through a metaphor without mixing it!)

CNN was tsk-ing the other day about how we are becoming overwhelmed with the immigrants’ demands on our resources.
~they use hospital emergency rooms for free health care, costing scads of money and putting our medical care system in jeopardy
~they flood our jails, taking up jail space and costing the taxpayers for their upkeep
~they threaten to swamp our schools, taking up space, teacher time, etc., and costing education dollars meant for our own children.

There are many other facets to the controversy, of course, but these were foremost in the minds of CNN’s commentators. Do you see what’s common to these complaints? No, no — I mean in addition to the money-costs brought on by legions of immigrants.

The “resources” upon which the illegal immigrants are placing demands are either government resources — tax money and infrastructure in the case of schools and jails — or resources over which the government has assumed control. A local candidate for Congress claims that “[p]roviding services to illegal immigrants costs the American taxpayers an estimated $70 billion a year.”

Our government — national, state, local — is the greatest; i.e., the worst, implementor of the altruist philosophy that has progressively infested our culture. Put that $70 billion together with all our foreign aid, and all the government “services” provided by our current welfare state, and the cost to Americans in lost capital is staggering.

Governments have no business providing services. Their funcion should be to provide protection against force and fraud. Whatever the pros and cons of immigration policy, the enormous involvement of our governments in providing other than protective services shows the impact philosophy can have on our lives.

Now, if only a more reasonable philosophy can begin to take hold again….

–Ken

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