If You Can't Take Criticism...
That which is perfect need not grow, adapt, or further evolve.
If you do not grow, adapt, or evolve, your reasons for existence are essentially over, and you die.
This philosophy applies to institutions, cultures, religions, societies, and people. But let's leave people out of it for the moment. I don't know any who are perfect -- especially the ones who tell you that they are.
But there are religions -- no, let me rephrase that -- there are some members of religions who cannot and will not accept criticism of their religion, no matter how tongue-in-cheek that criticism is. There are people who are eager to take offense when none if offered. There are people who are eager to engage in purely wild-childish temper tantrums with unholy glee, ready to incite riots and advocate murder, on the flimsiest excuse of being offended. The two religions with the worst offenders in this area are Christianity and Islam; and their offending members are known as fundamentalists by other members who wish to impose a great distance -- and wish to be seen doing so -- between themselves and the lunatic fringe of fundamentalism.
I would be happy to comment on the Christian fundamentalists, if it weren't that I found someone else who seems to be already right on top of it. Go read this post by Le Sommelier -- and bookmark the blog, because I have a feeling this is only the beginning...
And, since I'm not Muslim, and have been learning about Islam only within the last twenty years or so, I feel distinctly unqualified to comment too deeply about their lunatic fringe, as well. There are those Muslim bloggers who are qualified, though, and I hereby refer you to: Alhamedi Alanezi, Sandmonkey, Big Pharaoh, and The Arabian Knight, to name but a few. Each of them has links on his sidebar that can keep you reading forever, if you're so inclined.
"So," you might be wondering, "what brought all this on?"
Take a look:
From the article: "A biographer of the prophet had complained that no one would dare to illustrate his book, and the newspaper challenged cartoonists to draw pictures of the prophet in a self-declared battle for freedom of speech."
Got that? A writer wanted to illustrate a book, but he couldn't find an artist to do it for him because Muslim artists were afraid of the law that prohibits portrayals of Muhammed; so a Danish newspaper printed some visual editorials on Freedom Of Speech.
That was four months ago.
The ensuing stink caused by those who chose to be offended is now causing ambassadors to be withdrawn (and how I wish Dubya would do the same with Wilkins -- but that was another post), death threats made towards hitherto uninvolved parties, flags to be burnt, boycotts to be legislated (!), sabres to be rattled, and howls of "cultural terrorism!" to be flung into the rotating blades of the culture of religious righteous indignation.
Oh, yeah. And one former US president, who also isn't qualified to comment, to condemn the cartoons as being "against Islam." (Psssst! Bill: Bullcookies! Take a lesson from what Monica didn't do -- keep your mouth shut.)
The truly hideous aspect of this story, though, is that the Islamic lunatic fringe wants the Danish government to punish the offending newspapers (how? fire the editors? shut down the papers? behead the cartoonists? Trust what you read from the Muslim bloggers -- the fundies actually not only think this is possible, but they are demanding it!). The Danish government can't do that, and has said so several times, but the lunatic fringe refuses to believe it.
You see, Islamic newspapers don't have freedom of speech. Therefore, no one else should have it, either. No one else should be allowed to have what Islam doesn't have. And never mind that Sharia law is only supposed to apply to Muslims who choose to follow it -- nobody should be allowed to break that law, Muslim or not. So say the lunatic fringe.
They mean you and me.
And they are so deadly serious about being offended that they seem to be on the verge of declaring actual -- as opposed to virtual -- war on those of us who have what they don't want us to have. That would include things like a sense of humor and freedom of speech.
Suddenly, the system we live with seems a whole lot more -- tolerable. Not perfect, by any means. I don't think I'd like "perfect." But definitely tolerable.