Monday, April 17, 2006

It's called censorship, and you can call it what you like, but it still stinks

Wherein this is getting out of control


Alright, any number of place to go for the latest Mohammed cartoon "controversy." Here's two with comments:

...which doesn't even show Mohammed, so what's their freakin' problem? I have seriously lost my patience with a significant portion of the world's population causing me to say things like Did you know you can't spell Mohammed without ham? I don't even know what that means, it just seemed appropriate. See that? All you cartoon bigots jihadists are lowering the level of discourse.

Let's see what the problem may be. Here's the picture:


As has been pointed out, this is just Dante, Canto 28, from his Inferno (see Bruce Hayden's comment for some historical perspective). Here's two different translations of Canto 28, with the Mohammed bit excerpted:
  1. Sacred Texts:
    How is Mohammed mangled: before me
    Walks Ali[5] weeping, from the chin his face
    Cleft to the forelock

  2. World Wide Schools:
    How mutilated, see, is Mahomet; 31 
In front of me doth Ali weeping go, 
Cleft in the face from forelock unto chin;

Dante put Mohammed in hell; shouldn't be a big deal as he put a lot of people in hell. And it's not like the Divine Comedy is church doctrine...more like historical fiction.

Reading the Telegraph story points out a couple of other depictions based on Dante's work:
Dante placed Mohammed in Hell in Canto 28 of The Divine Comedy. His work inspired a painting by William Blake, depicting Mohammed with his entrails hanging out, and a fresco in Bologna Cathedral showing him being tortured by a devil.

From the Mohammed Image Archive we can see the Blake painting:


This is not the first time the Bologna Cathedral fresco has been in the news. Back in 2002 the Telegraph also carried a story about Islamic terrorists linked to al-Qa'eda plotted to destroy Bologna's 14th century cathedral because it contained a medieval fresco depicting the Prophet Mohammed in hell. Scroll down to the third picture for three images of the Bologna Cathedral image:


To recap, Muslims are upset by rude images of Mohammed. Now, they're upset by a cartoon that doesn't depict Mohammed at all, but just mentions him unfavorably. It might be a silly comparison, but this is beginning to remind me of a WKRP in Cincinnati episode. The station is under assault by fundamentalists upset with the rude language in the lyrics. Mr. Carlson is willing to appease them until he finds a line he cannot cross:
Mr Carlson: I had one of my disc jockeys, Dr Johnny Fever, give me the lyrics to a song. He wants to know if you'd let him play that song on the air.

Dr Bob, reading: "Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. Imagine no possessions? Imagine all the peple sharing all the world?" That sounds like communism to me, if there's no heaven, no religion and, I assume, no God.

Mr Carlson: There's not an obscene word in here.

Dr Bob: Not the way I see it.

Mr Carlson: Does it go on your list?

Dr Bob: Arthur, this is typical of the kind of secular, liberal humanist point of view that gluts our airwaves.

Mr Carlson: Yeah, but we're not talking obscenities here anymore, Bob, we're talking about ideas - political, philosophical ideas! First you censor a word, and then you censor the ideas.

Dr Bob: The idea is man-centered, not God-centered. Man is an animal. The Bible tells us to put our reliance in God, not in our fellow mortals. Arthur, this song says there's no heaven.

Mr Carlson: Ah. No, it says just imagine there's no heaven.

Dr Bob: That's blasphemy.

Mr Carlson: On the list or not?

Dr Bob: I have no choice but to say on.

Mr Carlson: That decision was made by one man.

Andy: It's called censorship, and you can call it what you like, but it still stinks.

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