Friday, April 23, 2010

A Preachy & Free Speech(y) Post

I really wanted to address the South Park v militant Islamic fundamentalists brouhaha, but something else has preempted that post. Perhaps I can find a way to tie them both together? I'm crossing my fingers, now here I go:

I'm sorry to have to break it to all the 1st Amendment chest-thumpers, but free speech isn't exactly free. We do not have the right to say many things in this country. You don't have the right to shout, "FIRE!" in a crowded theater. You don't have the right to threaten bodily harm toward anyone - including, most importantly, the President. In some states, you don't even have the right to anonymously bully and harass people over the internet.

Politics is ugly and divisive. Individuals with no knowledge of this nation's history believe that politics is more partisan now than ever before. That is simply not true and it is only easy to believe that because we have far more information flying than at any point in history. We have several 24-hour news channels, we have countless legitimate news websites (all biased in some way to one side or the other) to peruse, and, of course, we have innumerable sources of information and opinion on the blogosphere.

I've become aware of a squabble on Facebook in the last few days. I don't want to direct any traffic to either group, so I will be calling them Group A and Group B. There is a group, Group B, that is outraged over another the very existence of another group, I'll call them Group A since they existed first. Group A is titled with a mock-prayer in which they indicated that God has taken various favorite celebrities in the last year. They finish the prayer by mentioning that our current President is their favorite. The implication, in case anyone is too thick to get it, is that they want God to take the President too.

I personally don't find the title terribly offensive, but I do acknowledge that I have a thick skin and it takes a lot to offend me. Of course, I clearly remember far worse things that the rabble said and illustrated about our last President. Comedians had an absolute field day with President Bush and I find this to be fairly tame in comparison. Besides, I'm not humorless and I realize that it is a joke. It's even somewhat funny, what with the very obvious misspellings in the title. I find it difficult to take anyone too seriously if they can't even be bothered to double-check their spelling. Of course, by stating that, I am virtually guaranteed to make several errors in this very post!

Back to the topic at hand, taken literally, they are praying for death in an otherwise healthy man. The head of our federal government. I can't speak for God, but I don't think those are the types of prayers that He's looking for from his people. Indeed, He wants us to pray for our leaders and respect & obey our government. Heck, we are even instructed to pay our taxes - even if we don't approve of how they are being used! See 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Romans 13:1-7, and Matthew 22:15-22 for a very clear examples. I think it's obvious though that the creator of Group A isn't a Christian. Therefore, why would his mock-prayer, to a God that they don't even believe in or respect, mean anything to anybody?

Side note: Before anyone starts squawking that the creator of Group A may be Jewish or Muslim, I'll grant those two possibilities because it is often bandied about that the three Abrahamic religions all share the same God. However, followers of Judaism and Islam don't exactly have a "Hey God, I need a favor. . ." relationship with their deity. I suppose it's possible, not probable, that a Jew or a Muslim created Group A, but I'm going to ignore the possibility since I just showed evidence why a Christian wouldn't create such a group, based on New Testament teachings, and I'm not well versed in the Torah or the Koran. More than likely, I'd guess the creator of Group A is an agnostic or an atheist because they are so irreverent.

Again, I get the joke. I just don't think it's all that funny, but I do recognize that humor is subjective and acknowledge that the title of this group may be the height of cleverness to others. Frankly, the biggest prank of all would be if Group A were created by an Obama-supporter! Now that irony would tickle my funnybone.

Look, I didn't vote for the man, but he is in fact our sitting President. I believe he is still deserving of the honor and respect of that position, even if you detest his policies. Even if his personal behavior is a complete embarrassment to the country. Even if you hate him personally, assuming you know him personally. He is still our President for three more years and no amount of bellyaching is going to change that fact. If, God forbid, anything happened to our President, remember who would take his place. . .

I realize that I take a more mature view on this than most people on the left or the right. To those who were full of hate & vitriol during the Bush years and to those who are full of hate & vitriol now, I say this: You can disagree with civility. You can even decide to agree to disagree. It's really not that tough to suck it up and be a grown up about such things. Your anger and frustration is openly mocked by the so-called other side and your behavior, more often than not, only serves to highlight your childishness.

To Group A: Congratulations. Your trolling and attention-whoring has caught the attention of thin-skinned humorless prigs. Enjoy it and try not to make too big of an ass of yourselves.

To Group B: Do not feed trolls and do not pay attention to attention whores because doing so only encourages their outrageous words and behavior. Forming Group B only serves to get them off, so to speak, because they've garnered attention. Had you ignored them, they would have been easily forgotten by next week.

How does this tie in with the South Park v militant Islamic fundamentalists? Well, it's really the same damn thing, isn't it? South Park pokes fun at what's "allowed" in regard to images of Muhammad and, predictably, militant Islamic fundamentalists react as we have come to expect from followers of the "Religion of Peace." Matt Parker and Trey Stone are Group A personified. Militant Islamic fundamentalists are Group B personified - only they tend to murder people who they disagree with instead of forming ineffectual Facebook groups.

Personally, I see no problem with South Park showing Muhammad. They did it like nine years ago on the Super Best Friends episode. No one flipped out. No one called for death. No one really seemed to care at all - I guess because they were lampooning so many other religious figures. Before anyone suggests that I feel this way because they don't rip on Jesus, you really need to see the series. They rip on everybody. Everybody!

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a joke is just a joke. You might not find it funny, but it is still just a joke. Get over it and move on with your life or you run risk of finding yourself in the trollish attention-whore category as well.

I hope all this made sense, I wrote it while my son was busy watching his beloved Elmo video! :-)


  1. Didn't know that you could write? Wow!!! I love reading your blogs when I get a chance. I agree with you about the Group A post thing. I don't like it either. I hope and pray that it's a joke. I like Obama too.

  2. Thank you for the kind words! The weird thing about this post is that I don't particularly like Obama. I didn't vote for him and I disagree with most of his policies, but that doesn't mean that I need to act like a spoiled child because my candidate didn't win. Frankly, I didn't like any choices from the 2008 election. (shrug)