Thursday, September 27, 2012

Will Riot for Bad Movies (among other things)

No one is ultimately served by banning free speech. You do it for one group (for example Catholics who are riled up by an art exhibit), you have to do it for *all* groups--  Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Deists, Moonies, Satanists, Scientologists, Branch Davidians... If the government quashes critics of a certain religion because one religious group gets angry enough, then all the other groups can get to keep criticism away (all kinds of criticism, even the valid kind) by playing the same card.

At first glance, that might look appealing... until it's your group that gets shut down for giving what may be very valid criticism of another group. It's also a waste of effort, resources and tax money: what went to another crackdown due to religious raw nerves could have gone to a feeding program, or schools, or funds for nurses in the provinces.  

Don't get me wrong: I'm glad our local Muslims did not resort to pointless violence. It says a lot of good things about them and gives lie to the offensive stereotypes that some non-Muslims perpetuate. I just have trouble sleeping when something like this happens:

Yes, I'm talking about the film Innocence of Muslims, purportedly the cause of the protests (and violence) that's gripped the Muslim world in recent days. The two best terms I have to describe the brouhaha are: Comedy of Errors and For Want of Nail.

The court (or at least the MTRCB) could have simply looked at the movie for itself and condemned the half-assed clumsy depiction --and it is a half-assed clumsy depiction-- of Muslims therein, and then let it go. The grand irony is that the movie likely wouldn't have even been talked about (or heard of here) if Muslims overseas didn't overreact to it.

Yes, I'm painfully aware of what it feels like when your most cherished beliefs are insulted, and the Muslims are no strangers to having that happen to them (Especially local Muslims, some of whom have to pretend they're Catholics so they can get a decent shot at landing a job which would force them to violate their schedules of prayer and rest). That said, you can't keep lashing back at every insult that comes your way, regardless of size or scope, (or geographic distance) or else you'll waste your whole life playing whack-a-mole with enemies of the Prophet (SAW). Seriously, Dar al-Islam would be better served with roads, jobs, infrastructure and general prosperity, no? This game of whack-a-mole is a lot like Uncle Sam's wasteful game of whack-a-terrorist.

If the trailer is anything to go by, the movie is also an offense to cinema, not quite on par with Manos the Hands of Fate, but apparently close enough. No one, and I mean no one (or at least, no one sane), would ever take that movie as a serious depiction of Muslims.

I joke to my friends that some movies should be banned because they're godawfully bad, but I keep that at the level of jokes.

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