Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Terrorism works

Imagine these guys with beards and turbans?  Thought not.
"The Book of Mormon" musical, Tony Award winner. Photo source.
Case in point: “The Book of Mormon”, the new musical that’s just grabbed all the Tony’s (Tonies?) in New York.
This is a spoof of Mormonism written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Mormons are surely upset by it.  They’re notoriously thin-skinned, after all: just try talking to them about the special undergarments they wear.  That’s sure to stop dead any proselytising they may be layin’ on ya.
But what did the Mormons do in response to the spoof, these good folk of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints? They wrote letters and expressed their disappointment and “indignation” that their religion was being ridiculed.
And what did they not  do, these followers of Joseph Smith?  You guessed it.  They did not threaten to behead Parker or stone Stone.
Imagine, on the other hand, a Broadway musical called “Muslim; the Musical”, or, even worse, “The Koran; burn, baby burn", a light-hearted and irreverent songfest about the followers of the “Religion of Peace”, their quirks and foibles.
As Bibi would say: “it ain’t going to happen”.
And why not?  Because we are too scared that’s why. 
You may object to this judgment and say that we don’t make fun of Islam because we care about Muslim sensitivities.  But if that were the case, we would not be making fun of Mormonism either.  Or mocking mainstream Christianity with “piss-Christs”.
Or you may object on practical grounds: for instance, that there’s not much spoofing to be done of Islam because there’s no vein of humour to be mined.  You might remind me that the bearded bloviator Ayatollah Khomeini once said “there is no fun in Islam”.  I respond that while it’s surely true that there is no fun in Islam, there’s plenty of fun to be made of it. Indeed Parker and Stone have spoofed it themselves in several episodes of South Park
But then there were death threats put on Parker, Stone and their producers Comedy Central, by an outfit called RevolutionIslam.com.  I’m pretty sure that Parker and Stone were not intimidated.  But Comedy Central certainly was.  It promptly pulled the offending episodes, ones that poked fun at Mohammad.
So, one is forced to the obvious conclusion: that the real reason that no one will do “Muslim; the Musical”, is that people are too scared. And they are scared with good reason, for who can doubt that if there were a musical called “Muslim; the Musical” there would be mass hysteria and killings all round the Muslim world and in the US? Who could seriously doubt that?  And in response, we know that the authorities will cravenly wilt.
This is not a good place to have put ourselves.
What we should have done in response to the threat, right from the outset (eg from the Danish cartoons "controversy" of 2005),  is a robust law enforcement effort.  In the South Park case, we should have arrested the murderous thugs at RevolutionIslam and so put out a clear signal that we, the west, will not put up with such thuggery; that freedom of expression is crucial to our culture, even up unto being “offensive” to some members of society.
Instead we submitted.  And “submission” is exactly what the word “Islam” means.
And in submitting to this terrorism, both real and implied, we are implemeneting a part of Sharia law: banning  “blasphemy”;  blasphemy, mind,  as defined by Islamists. 
No other religion is exempt from being mocked or made fun of: not mainstream Christians, not Baptists, not Hindus and not even the funny underwearers of Mormon.  Just Islam.
We don’t make fun of Islam because it will get you killed.
Thus, for Muslims, terrorism works.
Postscript: various reviews I've seen of "Mormon" describes it as "edgy", "irreverent", "profane" a "send-up of religious dogma".  Well, as I suggest above: it is all those things only if the subject is safe.  How about writing an "edgy, irrelevant, profane send up" of the religion of peace folks?  Fuggedabout it.
Mind you, being by Parker and Stone, it's bound to be good I just love their South Park.  I'd sure go to see it if I were in New York!