Destroying Sacred or Sentimental Things as Free Speech — by NormanB ("Deviations from the Norm")
I was living in a flophouse in St. Pete in the 1980s. $35 dollars a week. Tiny room. Carl was the manager, living downstairs. I didn’t have to pay for electricity. Carl asked me what electrical appliance was constantly running in my room. I said none. He asked if I had a toaster. He asked me to unplug it while not in use.
Dave lived across the hall. He was older and straighter than me, but we got along pretty well. Once I was watching a linguistics class broadcast from a local university. Dave came over to watch and hang out, because he didn’t own a TV. Or any food. Or beer.
"Now, I’m going to show you a different kind of speech," the professor said with glee, "Free speech!" This professor was wearing a suit and tie; he looked straighter than Dave; but he grabbed a small American flag from his desk and burned it. Dave was fuming too. He was furious. What would this evil mad professor do next?!
Well, the prof pulled out a little copy of the Bible, the kind that has just the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. He tore it apart. Dave hit the ceiling. (We had very low ceilings in tiny one-room efficiencies.) He crumbled the beer can. He punched the ceiling. He stormed out of the room.
Dave was not particularly religious. Or patriotic. But there was no consoling him, no getting him to see that the professor was obviously trying to make a point, or that the professor’s point was proven by Dave’s reaction to the desecration.
I guess the director in Denmark was just trying to make a point when he decided to depict the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad in his version of Mozart’s Idomeneo. That trio of heads weren’t actually called for in the libretto script, because the opera is set in the 13th Century BC, long before Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad were born. But the scene does bring home the point, of how bad, bad, bad it is to present those heads, and whatever that character actually presented in the actual script, wasn’t actually that shocking to our modern sensibilities. Not as shocking as that trio of heads. So, it was severed heads all around!
We’ve all heard of the bombing-the-Danish-theatre plot. What we don’t hear about it as much is that it was planned by US DEA agent David Headley. Headley confessed to that crime, to Smuggling Heroin into the US, and to planning the attacks on Jews in Mumbai in November 2008. The Mumbai attacks led to India’s "27/11" State of Emergency, which then (all together now children:) ‘Removed the Civil Rights of India’s citizens.’ Let us hope, for the Florida pastor’s sake, and for our own, that US intelligence isn’t just propagandizing us, using their same old modus operandi, planning another attack like Mumbai or the Danish theatre, this time against a US church, and then blaming Muslims, like they did in India and Denmark and Oklahoma City.
Dave didn’t go blow up the TV station, or even ask me to find out where the professor’s office was. He was angry, but no revenge. CNN just spent the entire first half of August apparently trying to inspire Hate Crimes, as the ‘All-Mosque-All-the-Time Channel.’ They backed off from that coverage when the Hate Crimes started piling up.
If you include lapsed barely-theres like Dave and me, there are one-and-two-third billion Christians in the world. By an odd coincidence, there are exactly the same number of Muslims.