What does it take to set off an international religious uprising?
Evidently, all it takes is one guy with bad judgment and a production budget.
In the United States freedom of speech is a heavily protected right. I will be the first to admit that makes things harder for everyone. It means whatever hateful thing you want to say, so long as it reflects your own opinion, you are pretty much free to say. Whether it inflames anyone around you is not your problem, it's the listener's.
But of course, the listener has an equal and equally powerful right: to not listen. The same as all Americans are empowered to say what's on their minds, all Americans are equally empowered to disregard what is being said.
So this "Sam Bacile" guy - it might be an alias - put together a short little movie that casts the Prophet Mohammed in a bad light. It's insulting. It's demeaning. It suggests Islam's entire foundation is no more credible than that of Scientology, a scam of faith perpetrated unto perpetuity by its followers.
To which I say, so what?
Christianity has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous commentary and shrugged it off. Granted in its history the Church has visited horrible crimes upon mankind; the Inquisition comes to mind. Nobody expected that.
Judaism suffered terribly at the hands of the Nazis in the 40s; remarkably one of the strongest hands held out to fleeing Jews were those of Muslims in the Middle East, offering aid and shelter as an entire population fled irrational oppression. How short those memories last, hmm?
To swear fealty and fidelity to one's faith is great. Even if I disagree with your faith, I totally honor your dedication to it. That's awesome. But to swear vengeance against me - that is to say, against all of America, of which I'm a part - for what some other guy did? That's just mean.
Warning to all religious activists: raise a hand against me and I will defend myself and my family. I don't care who your prophet is. I didn't say anything bad against you or your prophet, and just because I happen to live in the same country as that Bacile guy doesn't mean I agree with him.
Now back to my earlier point: so what? Whether someone believes in your Muslim view of God or not, what difference does that make to you? None whatsoever...unless your faith is so poor that it cannot withstand a differing viewpoint.
Is that the case? Is your faith really that shaky? Is your universe that small, your god that jealous? Goodness.
My non-denominational church - our pastor insists on calling it an "inter-denominational church" - tries hard not to take a side as to which view of God is the right one. The point is to have a view. But when I see huge crowds screaming bloody murder and killing ambassadors, I start to wonder if Islam is such a great path. It seems to take itself much, much too seriously.
Yes, faith is very important. Eternal souls, the Alpha and Omega - the stakes are quite high. But really, if God made the entire universe and everything in it, and yet there's this faith over here and that faith over there, isn't it likely that God made them both? They are both in the same universe, after all. Maybe there's a little wiggle room for how one gets down the path of enlightment. And anyone who dares tell you that his way is the only way is overstepping his authority - he's certain because of his faith, but he cannot prove it. That's why it's called faith, and that's why it has to tolerate other viewpoints. I say faith has to tolerate other viewpoints not because your faith might be wrong, but because the other guy's viewpoints might also be right. Note: not "might be right," but "might also be right."
It makes me wonder whether Islamists - notice I don't say Muslim, the truly faithful - are aware of how sharply they undermine their own ideals and goals. Islam is supposed to be a religion of peace and welcome. Well, we're not seeing that right now, are we? One badly-made little movie and they go completely crazy.
True Muslims watch out for other Muslims. How many Muslims have been killed in the rioting in the aftermath of this lousy movie? How many innocent, impartial people have been killed? Notice I'm talking not just about Chris Stevens, a man whose mission was to improve and maintain good relations between the US and Libya, a man who was trying to HELP EVERYBODY, but even random people who get beaned with rocks thrown by angry Islamists. And they're throwing rocks - at whom do they throw those rocks? You're not going to hit many Americans from there, and if you do there's a very strong chance those Americans have guns. Might ought to put the rocks down. Just a suggestion.
And what did Mr. Stephens have to do with the making of the movie? Not a damned thing. Good job, Islamists. Way to find relevance. Just because he's an American doesn't mean he's responsible.
That's the same way I say just because someone is Muslim doesn't make him a terrorist, or a rioter, or even shallow-minded. He might be any of those things, just like an American might be. But this ongoing outrage is just over the top. If you hate the movie so much, why don't you hack the author's computer and pull the file? This nearly-random attack on an uninvolved person smacks of ethnic hate crime. It's as bad as flying planes into office towers full of workers who were merely going about their daily lives. What the hell did that have to do with anything about anything? They were just regular people, doing what they do.