Poking fun at people and our institutions is as basic a pleasure as eating and drinking. Jane Austen slyly acknowledged this as Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice observed: “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”
Today, the sport is deadly. The marvels of media technology, coupled with a revolution of human rights have given many in the West unimagined freedoms to mock each other’s most deeply beliefs, exposing what we think are each others’ hypocrisy. We can say or print just about anything and with the Internet, talk radio or cable TV we can find an audience.
Yet, in these audiences are folks who dislike the clever little jokes at their expense. They take revenge – and people, who might not have been contributors to odious political commentary, die. For example in the most recent terrorist attack in Paris, some people died who had nothing to do with the offensive cartoons that upset the terrorists.
2015 was barely one week old, and what will be for me its signature is the video of a French police officer. Wounded, begging for mercy, then executed by a fellow Muslim this image haunts me, as do so many in recent years.
Would that Muslims could rein in those amongst them who wage war with any who do not embrace their religion. In recent time, the Germans could not stop the Nazis, the Japanese their militarists or the Italians their fascists. And the church, visible and invisible, in these countries suffered right along through the wars necessary to stop the terror these groups perpetrated.
The more things change – the more they stay the same.
I don’t want to defend to the death the coarse commentary that many believe are their inalienable rights. Nor, do I want our children and any one else to die defending these rights! But, these days are dangerous, crazy times when words are still more deadly than sticks and stones! It isn’t self-censorship that we need – it is common sense that counts the cost of who might die because I shot off my mouth or pen!
Doug posted links to two articles that come close to expressing the unease – anger –sorrow – frustration and exasperation the past few days have caused:
Provocation is No Defense for Jihadists: Don't think they will stop at stupid and vicious left-wing satirists.
I Am Not Charlie Hebdo: Insult is the lowest – and now most dangerous – form of free speech -
Americans must choose our response carefully – in what is perhaps the third World War, or the continuation of the first one. The church, more so!
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. (Ephesians 6:10-14, The New Living Translation)