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February 05, 2006

Occasionally, offensiveness is the right thing

I suppose that if we had Christian anti-blasphemy laws in this country that punished offenders with death, or worse yet, if we had a huge number of violent Christians taking their cues from modern-day Torquemadas who were threatening and carrying out large scale mayhem if anyone denigrated Jesus, then in that case, I suppose, I would have supported Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" as a bold and courageous statement of unwillingness to be cowed by religious terrorists. In reality, of course, he was nothing but a dweeb trying to insult people who are too refined to give him the face-slapping he deserved.

On the other hand, we have the situation in Denmark. And elsewhere in Europe. And, for that matter, pretty much everywhere in the free world, where people who have been acculturated to treating domestic minorities respectfully are beginning to do so out of abject fear. In those circumstances, people who offend the minority -- say, by publishing newspaper cartoons -- are not to be blamed for doing so but are to be commended for showing courage in the face of organized terror.

There's a song that's been making the rounds called "It's in the Koran." Again, in ordinary circumstances, I would say that this song was grotesquely offensive. But these are not ordinary circumstances. Click on the link and scroll down to "The author speaks." The author points out that all of the incidents in the song actually happened and are justified by people claiming to speak with religious authority. (Besides which, while it may not be too relevant, the song lyrics are very well written. Having written some humorous songs myself over the years, I can tell you it's not easy, and this song is well done.)

For myself, there's little I can contribute here, other than this: