02 February 2006

Tempests for Two

I overslept again, probably an effect of this miracle medication I'm taking, but who knows? I see by the news today that we who complain about being censored by people with opinions are being bigoted and narrow-minded and right-wing, or at any rate insensitive to the beliefs of others. Okay, let me put it this way....

All my life people have trampled on my beliefs. People have ridiculed them, kicked them around, and told me in no uncertain terms to shut up. My fifth grade teacher told me that I was clinically insane for believing in the scientific fact of evolution, not merely Darwin's theory of the causes of it. (She also believed that "nobody really knows what electricity is or how light switches work--we just take it all on faith" and that the abbreviation Xmas is some sort of conspiracy to take the Christ out of Xmas and that "a noun is a person place or thing" so she may not be the best guide to what is sane or insane.) A guy recently told me that saying "Happy Holidays" is an insult to Christians. Still another proclaims loudly that objectivity is some sort of Western con, rather than an achievable state. Tolerance, I am told, is the easy way out and only the irrational is worth believing.

Whatever. I know there are a lot of people out there who don't share my beliefs. It would be a much duller world if everybody else did. (It would probably also be a much safer world in many respects; and as we followed the buffalo herds we would all have animated discussions about the possibilities of some day domesticating animals, or maybe planting edible grains for ourselves.) Every day animists, patriots, christians, libertarians, baconians, muslims, objectivists, canonical critics, and devotees of the Byzantine text of the New Testament are doing things that (if I knew about them) would offend me deeply. When they come to my attention I am outraged. Just because I don't go out on some rabid snark hunt, jumping wildly about and making a monkey of myself, doesn't mean I'm not infuriated. It does mean that I've got better things to do.

If I buy into this notion that certain muslims and their western apologists are making--that every time somebody says, writes, or draws something they might find offensive, somebody owes them an apology, then, by the same token, every time somebody says, writes, or draws something I find not merely offensive, but downright filthy, I am owed an abject and irrevocable apology. In this spirit, I submit a list:

People who Owe Me Apologies

(1) Donald Rumsfeld: If for nothing else, for his callous reaction to the destruction of one of the great temples of knowledge in this world: "Stuff happens." Practically every time he has opened his mouth in public, it was to say something so contemptable that even a civilized person might be tempted to throw something in his general direction--a rotten egg at least, or maybe a small explosive object of some kind.

(2) General Peter Pace: His outrageous misrepresentation of a cartoon that appeared in the Washington Post--a cartoon whose meaning is obvious to the meanest intellect--as anti-serviceman, is an insult not only to all Americans, but to all thinking people everywhere.

(3) Michelle Mashraqi: Her claim that "The press is very disrepectful if they see the outrage as Muslim's rebuking free press" is utterly offensive to all believers in the free press everywhere. This is not an issue of what Muslims believe--this is a matter of what free people are allowed to do or say. She, and any others expressing this inane viewpoint, are being deliberately disrespectful to all of us, and especially to me.

In fact, as I start thinking about all the people who owe me apologies on this basis, I start feeling a bit overwhelmed. Which, I suppose, is one of the reasons not to think about it. I really do have better things to do. And I suggest that if these protesters don't have better things to do, they should at least make a start by re-evaluating their lives.

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