Friday, 14 September 2012

The Innocents Of Muslims

I've been listening and watching the news reports of riots in several countries in response to this anti-Muslim film that has appeared on the internet created by a Coptic Christian. I have mixed views on this whole debacle which I will attempt to elaborate upon.

Firstly, people have been comparing this film with "Monty Python's Life Of Brian" which is understandable, but in my opinion incorrect comparison. Life Of Brian at no point made any swipes at God or Jesus or Christianity in general, instead it was a send up of Biblical epics and a satire on the religious fervour of the age. This film "Innocents Of Muslims" is none of these things. Instead a far more relevant comparison is with the silent film "Birth Of A Nation", which although it is silent and contains no nudity or bad language at all and is in black and white, never the less is still a 15 certificate here due to its content. The film, nothing short of a manifesto and platform from the Ku Klux Klan, depicts black people (all played by white actors blacked-up) as moronic, illiterate, violent people only interested in molesting and raping white women and children. The film is reprehensible in the extreme. In both cases, these films are made to treat their subjects with derision, contempt and hatred disguised as either a moral message in the case of "Nation" or "humour" in the case of "Innocents".

Should Youtube pull it? I think they should. By their own terms of usage this film clearly is a video designed to denegrate and is pretty much hate speech disguised as humour. There is no attempt to make any reasoned argument or cogent point, it is just 15 minutes of ridiculing Muslims simply for being Muslim. Whilst I am the first to admit that I have problem with certain tenets of the Muslim faith (as I do with most faiths) the way to deal with those ideas is to make reasoned arguments and points, either through serious debate or satire. But at no time do I feel it is excusable to denegrate people simply for being religious. So under Youtube's own guidelines the movie should be pulled.

Does such an action conflict with free speech? I don't think so. Freedom of speech has never come without a certain level of responsibility. We cannot for example, slander/libel people or use free speech to incite criminal behaviour and violence. This video, as I state above, doesn't seem to want to make any point other than "Muslims are silly/evil/pathetic etc" and as such I think it can certainly be classed as hate speech and certainly slanderous by default. It is bile dressed up as mirth.

So are the protests valid? Yes and no. Everyone has the right to be offended by things, even if others are not and everyone has the right to peaceful protest. But from what I've gathered this video is so badly done so ineptly handled that I would urge Muslims rather than get angry, laugh at it. laugh at its stupidity, laugh at the ineptitude with which this man has made his so-called "points". In reacting as they have, the protesters have given this man and his bile all the publicity he could ever want (no one really knew of this video's existence until the riots started). Also, whilst I agree with the concept of peaceful protest, this has not been. Surely perspective is needed here. This man doesn't deserve the publicity he now has.

In summary I say this: If you want to make a film about the evils, or perceived evils, of a religion, then do so with intelligent arguments. One can choose to present those argument as either documentary, drama or indeed comedy, but do it with intelligence. Ensure you show the clear distinction between critique of a subject and derision of those who agree with a subject. One can criticise a church or faith without claiming all within are morons. Also, get some perspective. An odious little man has made a hateful piece disguised as comedy and it has garnered far more publicity than it deserves. Treat the piece with disdain and contempt by all means, and simply disregard it as utter tosh (which from all accounts, it is).

Thats my tuppence worth anyway.

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