Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


What do you guys think about the uproar over the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed? There seems to be a concerted effort in the press here in the US (and perhaps the UK) to avoid further inflaming the sensibilities offollowers of Islam. Does anyone think the press in the US (and UK) would have shown the samekind of sensitivity over issues relating to Jesus and christianity? - Gauis Columbus

Have we all forgotten what happened in Nigeria a few years ago during the Miss World competition? How long will these guys continue to use violence in the name of their religion. Christ has been depicted in worse ways even in movies, and yet christians don't go on rampage. I do condemn any attempt to disparage someone's religion. The west, to their shame, sometimes prefers to appease these guys. Is it all in the name of Oil? I applaud the decision of the Danish government not to intervene but shame on Jack Straw for playing into the hands of these violent zealots.Anyway, I miss all of you guys and may the good Lord continue to bless and uphold you.- Gauis Chicago Mon, 06 Feb 2006 23:44:06 -0500

To some extent I agree with you Gauis Chicago but what I don't understand is the French and German newspapers who reprinted the cartoons in the name of free speech and in the solidarity with the Danish newspaper. This has escalated the issue. There are extremists who are always looking for something to use to manipulate the masses so why go out of your way to provide them with something in the name of free spreech?

If for example I know that my neighbor is a psycho Steelers supporter who will not hesitate to burn down my house if I displayed a Seahawks flag before the superbowl, would I be correct in risking the life of my innocent children in order to fulfill my right to display any flag I like? I wish these editors will really stand up for free speech by going to Mecca and holding up the cartoons in front of a mosque and be ready to sacrifice their lives for their belief in their right to publish any cartoon they like. Instead they sit in the safety of their own countries and put at risk the lives of innocent Danes, French and Germans who are doing good all over the world and are sometimes building bridges to the Muslims- not to mention the other lives which will be lost usually grassroots poor Muslims who are manipulated into these demos by extremists with a different agenda. - Gauis Pittsburgh aka Robbo. Tues, February 07, 2006 7:32 AM

I agree with Gauis Pittsburgh.
For one thing, it was pretty stupid and irresponsible to reprint those cartoons. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. many people live in parts of the world where they are very vulnerable to islamic retaliation, and their lives and property were being endangered by the reckless publication of such trash.

Secondly, it was pretty disrespectful. Remember the furor over the national endowment for the arts and the new york galleries that featured unmentionable items. Even apart from religion, certain expressions (for example racial slurs) are just not respectful to use. Shiite moslems believe it is wrong to make images of their prophet. period.

Third, i think it is irrelevant that some other religions have tolerated worse things.

And i'm not even sure that that is entirely true. When our own Master Jesus Christ found that people were buying and selling in the temple courts, He whipped them. He destroyed property (overturned their tables), and i suspect the tip of His whip graced the back of a few traders who were not quick to flee. And for those who like to see old testament examples: there was a guy who brought a foreign girl or baalist or something like that into the assembly. One zealous warrior run and pierced them through with a a spear- and by so doing he averted the judgement of God.

there is a sense in which we Christians should be embarassed that "zeal for Thy house" has not consumed us and motivated us to act in some of these situations. we should not be proud of our inaction; we should not call it temperance. it is a part of our lukewarmth. Like Lot living near Sodom and Gomorrhah. At least he was "distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men...tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard..'

Of course I am being disingenious, because there is a difference between cleaning your own house (like Jesus and the OT guy) and retaliating on others, but the point I am trying to make is that it is perfectly understandable for a zealous person to "lose it" under some forms of provocation.

Finally, i think it is hypocritical for Western politicians to invoke "free speech" in this case, while knowing very well that the laws governing indecency are more applicable here.

And by the way, the Pittsburgh stealers (deliberate spelling) should play their own size. That game was robbery. The Phoenix Suns, on the other hand; pure gracefulness. -
Gaius Solarus Kelvinatus of Phoenix 10 February 2006 08:36:19

I tend to agree with G Pittsburgh and Phoenix. I certainly feel that it is very disingenuous for the west to claim free speech when in the UK and US people are deported including some Imams for preaching a version of Islam that is considered too radical for the likes of Tony Blair and George Bush. I can recall recently that Pat Robertson called for the assasination of Hugo Chavez ( the Venezuelan president) because he was anti US in his rhetoric and then followed up by calling for Gods fire on a town in Pennsylvania that did not approve the creation story in the curriculum. The latter two examples do not show a lot of tolerance.
Even more hypocritical is when the west threatens to cut aid to the Palestinians because they have democratically voted in Hamas who they consider a terrorist organisation though this was free speech in its most legitimate form.
The article was certainly free speech in every way but how will the west react if say George Washington is cast in a movie as a brutal slave owner who whipped his slaves and routinely raped the female slaves on his estate?

I did find the cartoon pondering the impending shortage of virgins in paradise because of the booming number of suicide bombers entering paradise quite funny . Heres my million dollar question, there are quite a few female suicide bombers now, who will meet these amazonians in paradise??? Gauis Texas. 11 February 2006 04:41:51

Now, is the word "disingenious" or "disingenuous", make up your minds- Robbo

Sorry Pitt, Phoenix and Texas, I cannot agree with you guys. I think you guys are conflating a number of the issues. As I see it there are 3 or 4 separate issues:
1. Does the press have the right to publish what it chooses?
2. Should the right to publish be restricted when it comes to religious issues?
3. When aggrieved, are there responses by people of faith that can rightfully be called barbarous (vs. civilized)?
4. Is it cowardly to act in a civilized manner when one's religious sensibilitiies are hurt?

We have all probably noticed that Jesus during his time on earth reacted very differently to secular Roman authority than he did to the ruling religious authorities. Incidentally, the apostles followed the same approach. Jesus taught his disciples to submit to the Roman officers even when abused--give your coat when it is asked of you; turn the other cheek. He paid taxes. He encouraged others to do the same. He uttered no complaints when he was flogged and then crucified by the Roman officers. In contrast, we find that in dealing with the Jewish religious leadership, he overturns tables in the temple (as Smart points out), he debates religious authorities, refuses their interpretation of scripture, and is far less tolerant of a gratuitous slap in the face when he was brought before the Sanhedrin--punishment much less severe than the flogging or crucifiction at the hands of the Romans.

All of this highlights a principle that is both moral and sensible. All authority has a domain and time of influence. Jesus exerted his prerogatives as a member of a community over which Scripture had ultimate authority. One day he will exert his prerogatives as Lord over all His creation. That time has not yet come. Islam should be no different. The koran is an authority for those who submit to its teachings. It does not have the right to religious jurisdiction over non-believers. It does not have the right to hold the rest of us hostage to its tenets and practices. Moslems can and should request, implore, beg--call it whatever you want-- respect for their teachings, oracles and prophets. What it cannot do is demand it, especially in language reminiscent of barbarisms of centuries past.

Now to the matters at hand. What are we to do when freedom of speech is offensive? How are we to act and to express our displeasure when people say things that tick us off? How about the corollary? What are we to do when freedom of speech is salutary? When it brings us pleasure? If the cartoons that are causing the present furor in the middle East were instead articles that praised and recommended Islam to its readers--i.e., ones that very strongly commended Mohammed (or our Lord) as a model for the world, would Moslems have found that kind of free expression of ideas acceptable? My guess is that kind of free expression of pro-Islam ideas would not have been considered off limits--indeed, would not caused a single negative ripple--but instead would have been embraced by Moslems as self-evident truth, even if publicized by an infidel reporter. But why should that be? Is free speech only acceptable when it makes a subgroup feel good about itself? Is it inherently wrong when it offends? Should it be restricted when it takes lightly what others consider sacred--particularly religion? More pointedly, should religion be considered off limits--a kind of separation of church and state--when it comes to free public expression of opinions? What I am getting at is this: unless we are willing to restrict all talk of religion--both when religion is praised as well as when others criticize or mock it--then we have to devise other strategies for maintaining civility and balance.

The devise that most modern societies have come up with is the freedom not only to speak but also to rebut. This is the mark of a civilized society. Otherwise we only have 2 options--live in a totalitarian state where our thoughts are policed for the good of all (but who would decide what is good for all) or else revert to an earlier time when disputes were resolved by violence. It appears to me that the latter is the path that many fundamentalist Islamic nations have taken. Our ancestors, when they disagreed killed each other. Was this not the case with our Lord's enemies? Remember that He was murdered by those that were angered by His right to freely express ideas that they considered heretical yet were unable to withstand the force of his reasoning. Paul too was often in jeopardy because his enemies could not rebut his arguments so plotted to kill him (see Acts). I believe the civilizing influence of true christianity arises from our own experience with repressive authority. It is the reason why debate and argument have always been promoted over coercion as a means of changing peoples minds (it is for good reason that we call the the era of the inquisition the dark ages--nothing about that time reflected true christianity).

This message, unfortunately, has not been embraced by Islam. From its very inception conversion has been achieved by force. That trend continues today. That is why I am appalled by the violence; why I cringe reflexively from these mob acts. Do not get me wrong. I think some of the cartoons were insensitive, particularly if they are perceived to be about Mohammed--I contend that many of them, like the one about virgins that Sebu mentions, were meant to convey a deeper more subtle point. My view is that the charge that this is about "dissing" Mohammed is a strawman argument used irresponsibly by some the leaders of Islam to inflame the passions of the believers against the infidels. Even if you disagree with me on this issue, my deeper point is that the response to this literary/artistic offense has been excessive and barbaric. There is no excuse for destroying property and threatening collective violence on everyone who is not a Moslem. Kids hit and bite when offended; grown-ups use words or appeal to good sense. It is not cowardice to disavow violence or threats of Jihad.

There are better ways to settle disputes. Killing, maiming and destroying property are not high up on that list. Finally, unlike Smart, I don't know that Jesus would have been put out by cartoons that depict a false religion to be what it is. I don't think that he would have drawn such a cartoon himself, but would he have come to the defense of the marauding bands that are destroying property and life? Try to imagine Jesus alive today, pressed on CNN for his response to the uproar over a false religion? Somehow, no matter how much he understands the viewpoint of the offended parties in this matter--I do not see him (I may be wrong) siding with the Moslems on this issue. Lastly, since we are invoking passages from the old Testament, how about Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Talk about mocking another person's religion!

Take care- Gaius Ohio 11 February 2006 07:58:18

Few more points: When Moslems call for the killing of Jews and for the extermination of Israel, are they rightfully exercising their freedom of speech? Is there a contradiction when the US threatens not to do business with Hamas if they do not recognize Israel? I see no contradiction. Every nation has a right to self-determination. If a nation chooses terrorists for its leaders, that is their right. However, it is also the right of other peoples to decide not to deal with that nation. If your son or daughter decides as an adult to curse God, that is his right. It is also your right to respond to his or her decision in a way you see fit. No contradiction.

If the New York Times endorsed a book or article that used the word nigger would I still support free speech? Yes, I would. Why? Because I would have the opportunity to respond. I could decide to do nothing, to rebut that statement or to shame the person who said such a thing. I could refuse to buy the newspaper or to protest peacefully outside its doors etc. What I would not be allowed to do with impunity in a civilized nation is to throw petrol bombs or threaten to kill the editor. For those infractions I would put myself in seriious jeopardy of going to jail. Similarly, if a politician make antisemitic or racist comments in this country--all in the name of free speech--that right is not taken away; however that politician would pay the consequence--he or she would be thrown out of office or shamed into leaving. No one, however, would have the right to torch his or her home. That is the difference between here and there.

About deportations: Freedom of speech is not the same as a conspiracy to commit a crime. To
incite others to break the law is not the same thing as voicing views that because of a difference of opinion may be offensive to others. If that was the criterion we would all have to be mute and deaf. No one could ever hope to say anything in public--particularly in a mixed population--that would be acceptable to all.

Lastly, I agree that the West does not always live up to its own creeds or ideals. But surely, you are not arguing that this kind of hypocrisy makes those ideals defunct. If so no christian should preach the gospel or promote morality. We would all be hypocrites a thousand times over. Moslems who so hate freedom of speech that they are willing to kill others who exercise this right, should relocate to countries where that right is taken away. Instead, what they hope to achieve by threats of violence is the de facto globalization of Islam. They want to extend the reach of Isam outside of the middle East to places where the Koran is not the supreme law. If other newspapers have decided to print a few more cartoons, they may simply be protesting the silly untenable notion that Moslems have a right to impose their religion universally. They don't. So I end where I started. Is there an even greater inherent hypocrisy when Moslems defend their right to deny the holocaust, call for the killing of Jews, promote the extermination of Israel (in my view the last is a crime--not the exercise of free speech), yet cry foul when Mohammed is drawn in a cartoon that points out in a humorous way the sick idea of suicide killings? I guess the exercise of their freedom of speak is justified but that of these cartoonists isn't. Preposterous. Like G Texas said, let those who live in glass houses
........Enough said. - Gauis Ohio 1 February 2006 15:38:27

Ok G Ohio, good points but I think there are some assumptions on your part. I do not think that most of the moslem protests have been violent. There have certainly been some violent responses as there will always be, because extremists will use this opportunity to advance their agenda. By and large most of the protests have been large demonstrations denouncing the cartoons and boycotts of Danish goods- which is where I feel the west is really nervous. I think the protests are very legitimate and just like you said free speech means that you and I have a right to respond to anything said about us.

The person also making the statements should be aware that there will be consequences and should not adopt that "deer in the headlights" look when there is a backlash to his free speech. They were insulting the Moslem religion or disparaging it if you wish and there is no circumventing that issue. It insults every moslem in the name of free speech. The moslems are doing the same and the West is saying, "There go those extremists again". Do you know that when those cartoons came out the ambassadors of 12 moslem countries went to meet the Danish Prime Minister to let him know that he needed to denounce those cartoons as offensive so as to avoid a backlash in the moslem world. The Danish prime minister refused and here we are today. Now rather belatedly with the point made the Prime minister is trying to patch the damage without success.

I am certainly no lover of Islam but I feel that the West uses this freedom of speech thing very loosely.Lets face it if at the highest levels of power the moslem nations could not even make their voice heard what more could they do than to protest on the streets and boycott western goods. It sound very similar to what Ghandi did to secure India freedom from the colonists. The west is not a haven of saints and angels and they claim to be the bastion of civilisation but behind that facade is the same extremism you see in Islam when the west ist hreatened. You would not have agreed with me 5 years ago. But come 911 you see the extreme response in prisons camps in Guantanamo bay, invasion of Iraq.

In an unperfect world we need to realiset that change or getting your views across are not always done through diplomacy. The moslems are seeing all this and reacting to it accordingly. Note that the moslems are not without blame they also have allowed extremists to hijack their religion which has led to this impasse.

Lastly I am not so sure that Christ was so compliant with all of the Romanlaws. He obeyed them because they did not conflict with his relationship with our Father. When you read the new testament carefully you become awareof the fact that even though say slavery and polygamy are not banned outright the bible discourages them. So I am so sure that Christ is all that silent on the Roman law. I certainly do not think that he liked to see people crucified when he passed by Golgotha before his own time.- Gauis Texas. 11 February 2006 16:55:01

G. Ohio, I respectfully disagree, again. I think the publication of those cartoons was immoral, insensitive and plain wrong. It should not be defended. It is hypocritical for some of our leaders to invoke "free speech" in this case, without paying attention to the indecency and offensive speech laws. Both are important in free societies, and neither should be allowed to trump the other. In most western countries, you can get in great trouble for saying or publishing things that are inflammatory in nature. Like threats, insults, etc.Remember in the 90's the US congress even passed laws extending these rules to the internet, (the communications decency act), it is particularly hypocritical for this administration.

If they believe in free speech, they should publish the pictures of Dubya with Abramson, and the attendance list of Dick's energy policy meetings. And it wouldn't hurt to let us know who directed Scooter Libby to endanger the lives of Valerie Plame and her contacts. the fact is, all the freedoms of society have their limitations. There is free speech, but that is limited by laws against libel, indecency, instigation, and inflammatory speech. the same is true about many of the other freedoms; eg, there is a right to bear arms- but not without a license; there is freedom of religion- but certain practices is banned. There is freedom to associate- but not in certain places. Moreover, many of the freedoms conflict each other in some circumstances.

Remember what happened in Rwanda: one man's inflammatory broadcast led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of people. Those who wielded the machetes were guilty of murder, but did the guy who did the radio broadcasting have some blame as well? you bet. he is facing extradiction from Quebec. Words are powerful. And a simple apology could have averted so much suffering. "A soft answer turneth away wrath". In my book, the murderous rioters who killed others are guilty of murder. But perhaps as guilty (morally, though not legally) are the heartless, cruel, disrespectful ones who could have nipped this in the bud and chose not to. They knew what was good to do, and did not do it. For them, it is sin.

This was a breach of common sense; hence it was a breach of school rules. Gauis Phoenix 14 February 2006 05:53:34

Hey G Phoenix! you still remember the School rule #1 from high school? That brought back precious memories. "Ignorance of the school rules is no excuse. Every breach of common sense is a breach of the school rules" hahaha.

The cartoon riots have now reached Nigeria and guess what, churches and christian owned businesses were attacked and people lost their lives and later on the christians also retaliated attacking moslems with further loss of life. So in the fragile "ecosystem" that exists in places like that, all it takes is someone irresponsibly exercising free speech 2000 miles away for sectarian violence to begin. very sad and that is precisely my point about bridges beein destroyed because of someone's careless words - Robbo 18 February 2006 05:53:34

Well said G. Phoenix. Nobody is arguing the fact that the paper had no right to publish what they wanted but we feel that society is also governed by a code of conduct where people respect each other.

In the bible Jesus says if you call your brother a fool you will stand before the council and James praises the one who can control his tongue as the tongue can incite in an evil way. What really is freedom? You and I are not really free. The freedoms we have are protected in a civil way bythe laws that grant us those freedoms and outside of those laws there is nofreedom. So freedom of speech exists because we have laws that protect usbut those laws are not a license to be vitriolic of another persons views or religion. In the christian life our freedom is Christ and how much of Him we get to know on this side of the grave- outside of His person we are not free there is just bondage to Satan.

I think the word freedom is grossly misused. I am not talking of press censorship, criticism orinhibiting intellectual debate, but when does a government say this is reprehensible and should not be said? Only after people riot and boycott their goods or when there is no riot or boycott but the matter just stinks? This is no different from me standing up and insulting you to the face, is that free speech? G Texas 15 February 2006 04:51:51


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