Monday, August 29, 2005

Are we supposed to RESPECT that?

If you challenge people’s religious beliefs you’d better be prepared “to deal with the consequences”.

One might be inclined to consider that sensible advice, but when the person dispensing the advice is George Galloway, ‘MP’ for Bethnal Green & Bow, and the person receiving that wisdom is Salman Rushdie, erstwhile ‘author in hiding’, it is entirely more ominous. Indeed, it sounds like a threat.

"Is that a threat?" asked Rushdie.

The exchange occurred, according to a report in The Guardian at the Edinburgh Festival during a debate between G.G. and Mr Rushdie on a special edition of Question Time, chaired by Andrew Neil.

G.G. cautioned:

"You have to be aware if you do [offend people's beliefs] you will get blowback. You should do it very carefully, especially if you are a public service broadcaster."

On the idea that Rushdie’s book, ‘The Satanic Verses’, be adapted by the BBC for the small screen, Galloway said that any broadcaster who did not respect the sensitivity of peoples religious beliefs would have “to deal with the consequences".

Rushdie replied to the MP for Respect:

"The simple fact is that any system of ideas that decides you have to ringfence it, that you cannot discuss it in fundamental terms, that you can't say that this bit of it is junk, or that bit is oppressive ... we are supposed to respect that?"

The Indian-born author, who we need not be reminded still lives under the threat of a death-fatwa, also claimed that Islam was "backsliding into bigotry" and described Muslim leaders in Britain as "a joke, because no one follows them".

He’s wrong. George Galloway was sitting right next to him.

Galloway should not be excusing (sorry, “explaining”) attacks on people for expressing their views on religion.

While everybody ought to absolutely support the right of everyone else to practice their religion without fear and intimidation and we must loudly deplore discrimination (or worse, violence) against any person because of their religious faith, we should not be required to have a commitment to preserving the image of any religion or respect people’s feelings about their beliefs.

Religion is just a set of ideas which must be open to debate, discussion, criticism and even ridicule, just like any other set of ideas.

We must deplore attacks on PEOPLE, not on IDEAS.

Rushdie is a symbol of the former, while Galloway appears to be an apologist for the latter.

Which is odd, considering that George himself has faced “blowback” and “consequences” from the same section of society that would likely renew attacks on Salman Rushdie and any broadcaster attempting to produce his work.

As Nigel Tuffnell would say, “It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever.”


Post a Comment

<< Home