Wow, but this post has inspired so many misconceptions.
I do not think Muslims should be insulated from satire. I do not think there is parity between a cartoonist drawing a picture someone doesn’t like and a Muslim calling for the execution of the cartoonist. I am not on the Muslim’s side here, and I am uncompromising in condemning rioting and destruction as criminal.
I do think religion needs to be thoroughly criticized—you haven’t been reading Pharyngula for long if you think otherwise, and I thought I’d been quite careful to spell out that religion was a hate-amplifier in this situation—and I do think that Islam in particular needs to be taken down a peg or two (I only hesitate to say that because too many of our home-grown Christians would interpret it as approval for their sanctimony). I think some of those crowd photos show a deeply evil mindset at work.
But here’s the thing, that liberal-lefty perspective: those Muslims are people. You know, human beings with needs and desires and families and aspirations, etc. We have to live with them, unless you’re calling for their extermination or banishment (and no, we aren’t. I hope.) They’ve got this horrible, evil idea of religion stuck in their heads, and the long-term solution is to educate them and imbed more secular ideals in their communities—my objection is that I don’t see that the Danish newspaper was trying to do that. A majority poking a minority with a sharp stick is not a confrontation or an argument. It’s just being mean and petty. It’s yet another kick when they’re down to a group of people who are already marginalized.
I’d be curious to know what solutions are being planned in Europe. Maybe someone who thinks a sign that says “Butcher those who mock Islam” is irredeemable and ought to be kicked out of the country, but I suspect, optimistically, that most of the Muslims in Denmark aren’t quite that far gone; are there any constructive ideas to weaken the grip of religious foolishness on immigrant populations? Or is it all going to be a process of clumsily beating them down with simple force? Maybe some of the Danish readers here can tell us what is going to be done (oh, and if the solution is to prohibit the mockery of religion by newspapers, I’m doubly against that: it violates free speech, and it doesn’t address the real source of the conflict at all.)
I’m all for ripping into religion with wild abandon. I just think it’s obvious, though, that there is another dimension to this problem than simply the god business, and too many of us are ignoring the human/social issue to blame only a convenient religious handle on the riots.