Friday, 14 June 2013

Wo Wo Woroni!

From Imgur
Woroni... now there's a name I've not heard in a long time.  It's the student paper of my alma mater, the Australian National University. I even wrote a couple of articles for it around 1969-ish, though blow me if I can remember what they were about.
The editors got into hot water a few weeks back with the publication of an "infographic" satirising Islam.  This was the last in a series that had previously satirised Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism and Judaism. [The Islamic satirical infographic is above left]
It will surprise no readers that there were no problems with the others, just with the final one on Islam.  Some Muslim students complained and the Uni management got involved.  Vice Chancellor Ian Young said it "overstepped the mark" called for an apology and threatened to de-fund the paper if they didn't.  Woroni gave in, took down the cartoon and issued a kind of pro-forma apology.
One of Young's reasons for monstering Woroni like this, he said, was the violence after the Danish Cartoons and the Muslim riots in Sydney last year in the wake of the "Innocence of Muslims" video.
Three things here about Young's foolish censorship:
  • First, that it's a kind of condescension to assume that Muslims have such a poor grasp on their emotions that an infographic would cause them on masse to start rioting. [Farz Edraki makes a similar point in an otherwise dopey article in Crikey]  
  • Second: how does it work to say that you won't do something because you fear violence?  Doesn't that just scream: violence works?  
  • Three: isn't it rather obvious -- wasn't it obvious even at the time? --that this whole episode has only created more animus rather than lessened it?  The comments on the Woroni piece are pretty well all against the decision and are knowledgeably critical of Islam -- that is, doctrinally-based and experientially-based, not "Islamophobic" as Edraki, above, would have us believe.
Woroni covers the history and outcome of the issue rather well here.
One of the instigators of the inforgraphic has left Woroni as a result and posted a rather good-ish piece about the brouhaha on his blog -- though I rather wish he hand't had a swipe at supporter, the columnist Bolton, simply, one assumes, because Bolton is a conservative commentator.
One of the commenters on the Woroni site, a Muslima, claims the offending infographic is "wrong, wrong, wrong".  Actually, she's wrong.   Looking at the infographic above, and based on Islamic jurisprudence, as in the Umdat Al-Salik (linked at left):  Before the law, the evidence of a woman is indeed worth half that of a man's.  A woman is indeed expected to do all the work at home. A menstruating woman is indeed not allowed in a mosque. A male may indeed have multiple wives (though only four, if you're not the Prophet himself, so that's a small numerical error in the infographic).  There are indeed "doe-eyed houris" (virgins) awaiting in paradise (though 72 is said to be metaphorical, indicating "many").
So, on a matter of fact, the Vice Chancellor has little -- indeed nothing -- to go on, to suggest that the cartoon is "overstepping the mark".
A final note: I was rather encouraged by the tenor of the comments in the Woroni article, From back page to Front Page..."