All entries for February 2006

February 22, 2006

Selected Images

Bin LadenChurchsignManRoad signs

Good Country Songs

Get Your Tongue Outta My Mouth 'Cause I'm Kissing You Goodbye

Her Teeth was Stained, But Her Heart Was Pure

How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away?

I Don't Know Whether To Kill Myself Or Go Bowling

I Just Bought A Car From The Guy That Stole My Girl, But The Car Don't Run So I Figure We Got An Even Deal

I Keep Forgettin' I Forgot About You

I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well

I Still Miss You, Baby, But My Aim's Gettin' Better

I Wouldn't Take Her To A Dog Fight, 'Cause I'm Afraid She'd Win

I'll Marry You Tomorrow, But Let's Honeymoon Tonight

I'm So Miserable Without You, It's Like Havin' You Here

I've Got Tears In My Ears From Lyin' On My Back and Cryin' Over You

If I Can't Be Number One In Your Life, Then Number Two On You

If I Had Shot You When I Wanted To, I'd Be Out By Now

Mama, Get A Hammer (There's A Fly On Papa's Head)

My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, And I Don't Love You

My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend, And I Sure Do Miss Him

Please Bypass This Heart

She Got The Ring And I Got The Finger

You Done Tore Out My Heart And Stomped That Sucker Flat

You're The Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly

If The Phone Don't Ring, You'll Know It's Me

She's Actin' Single, And I'm Drinkin' Doubles

She's Lookin' Better After Every Beer

I Haven't Gone To Bed With Any Ugly Women, But I've Sure Woke Up With A Few

February 06, 2006

Is this free speech?

These images depict the prophet Muhammed. One with a bomb and another with a dagger. Is this what the bastion of freedom and liberty, Western Europe, believes free speech to be?

Let us remember that Islam forbids depiction of Muhammed in any way, never mind in such an insulting manner. The European newspapers publishing these pictures are appealing as if protecting their rights against state intervention or secrecy: lest we forget, this is about cartoons. The first newspaper, Jyllands Posten, knew the furore this would cause and baited Muslims with their publication. This is not free speech - if John Locke and John S Mill were alive today, they would be disgusted. This is not what they had in mind when they thought of liberty, the promised land. This is the deliberate insulting of a religion with more than a billion followers –

Mistakes on all sides

Once again Muslims around the world have not disappointed the provocateurs. Embassies have been destroyed, diplomats attacked, a Catholic priest shot dead in Turkey, and much more. If the newspaper started out in the wrong, they now seem a distant object in the whole palaver thanks to the outrageously disgaceful behaviour of "a minority" of Muslims in several countries. How is it that "a minority" are always ready to take up arms and placards and pierce the air with outrageous claims and threats? That so many Muslims find it so easy to take up arms and engage in such bloodthirsty rhetoric is a worry for the world and does not make life any easier for the 'other Muslims'. Let us see for a moment what Arab newspapers carry occasionally:

It is true that many of these images are printed in the lunatic fringe of the Arab media spectrum, but not all. The image containing Ariel Sharon and the bloody sword is from Al-Wafd, the main opposition paper in Egypt, with substantial coverage. So hypocrisy comes into it also.

However, I believe Jyllands Posten was right to apologise but must retract the cartoons - the media cannot work on an eye-for-an-eye ethos. This conflict is being painted as the inevitable fight between Islamic censorship and Western liberty - sorry to disappoint, but it is not. It is a Vin Diesel while people are pretending it's a Schwarzenegger. The issue is right, but the provocation and timing wrong. The crucial issue here is this: if Islamic censorship causes problems within the 'Western' way of life, then there is cause for people to evoke freedom of speech. If, however, cartoonists and Editors go out of their way to bait a religious group and then hide behind freedom of speech, then we have entered a wrong alley.

The reaction by a lot of Muslims has been pathetic and horrendous; mostly overreaction. But we must not lose sight of the issue here: insult of a religion. The prophet Muhammed is a tremendous figure in history and should not be depicted thus. Muslim media needs to pay the same attention to its anti-Semitism, but just because media in Islamic countries show such flagrant hatred for Jews does not mean we demean and sully the image of their prophet in return.

There is a very thin line between freedom of speech and insult. It must be trodden very carefully. Damn those grey areas.

February 03, 2006

The Merits Of Democracy

Hamas membersThe United States is engaging the Middle East in dialogue over democracy while castigating it for harbouring and encouraging suicide bombers and other assorted terrorists. It invades Afghanistan and Iraq…talks about invading Iran.

Despite being in a quagmire in said places, it forges ahead with conviction with encouraging Muslim and Arab countries to democratise. And then, just then, the state of Palestine elects a group to government known to the rest of the world only in headlines either preceding or following any combination of the words "suicide" and "bomber". Dubya's jaw must have fallen to the floor.

It is a testament to politics today that instead of praising what appears to be a fair and open election in an area where it is rare, we are having to castigate the Palestinians for electing a party that uses suicide bombing as a tactic. To use the word 'ironic' would be a little tragic – needless to say, this is not what the Democratists hoped for. We must, however, dig deeper. Hamas won because of a broad platform that did not solely focus on the white elephant in the room; they were able to present a united front (Fatah is torn apart by internal divisions by more than a 100 'independents'). Could it be that this broader platform is part of a reform of Hamas? It is surely too soon to tell.

I am of the belief that given power, Hamas will clean itself up and attempt to do the same with Israeli relations. Our hawkish news sources had better be careful with their words, the peace process is not dead. Not yet.

Is this the will of the people? Do they share the party's ethos of action at any cost? Only time will tell: truth is stranger than expectation…

February 2006

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