Muslims ask French to cancel 1741 play by Voltaire
The Muslims asked? Can things possibly stay civil for long?
SAINT-GENIS-POUILLY, France -- Late last year, as an international crisis was brewing over Danish cartoons of Muhammad, Muslims raised a furor in this little alpine town over a much older provocateur: Voltaire, the French champion of the 18th-century Enlightenment.
A municipal cultural center here on France's border with Switzerland organized a reading of a 265-year-old play by Voltaire, whose writings helped lay the foundations of modern Europe's commitment to secularism. The play, "Fanaticism, or Mahomet the Prophet," uses the founder of Islam to lampoon all forms of religious frenzy and intolerance.
The production quickly stirred up passions that echoed the cartoon uproar. "This play ... constitutes an insult to the entire Muslim community," said a letter to the mayor of Saint-Genis-Pouilly, signed by Said Akhrouf, a French-born cafe owner of Moroccan descent and three other Islamic activists representing Muslim associations.
Oh, hell; an insult to all Muslims? Tell me, is it causing as much pain, if not more, than the Holocaust does to the Jews?
They demanded the performance be cancelled.
Ah, I see; they are no longer asking; I new that this issue wouldn't stay polite for long. Still, I would imagine that the French caved in to their demands and immediately cancelled the performances or, at the very least, excised all references to Muhammad from the text...?
Instead, Mayor Hubert Bertrand called in police reinforcements to protect the theater.
Well, consider me dumbstruck and rather impressed! Good for Mayor Bertrand! If only our own rulers had had the same courage when faced with a bunch of philistinistic, rampaging Sikhs.
On the night of the December reading, a small riot broke out involving several dozen people and youths who set fire to a car and garbage cans. It was "the most excitement we've ever had down here," says the socialist mayor.
What is it with Muslims and setting fire to things? It's almost as though they have only just discovered fire or something. Or maybe it is cars that they have only just discovered.
Oh, no, hang on; they were indiscriminate "youths", just like all those youths of totally and utterly mixed cultures who were rioting in Paris (and setting fire to spastics. Have they only just discovered disability?).
The dispute rumbles on, playing into a wider debate over faith and free-speech. Supporters of Europe's secular values have rushed to embrace Voltaire as their standard-bearer. France's national library last week opened an exhibition dedicated to the writer and other Enlightenment thinkers. It features a police file started in 1748 on Voltaire, highlighting efforts by authorities to muzzle him. "Spirit of the Enlightenment, are you there?" asked a headline Saturday in Le Figaro, a French daily newspaper.
Sometimes one wonders why we bother; there is no debate to be had with these people.
"Help us Voltaire. They've gone mad," read a headline last month in France Soir, a daily newspaper.
I only have one issue with this very cool headline: they've gone mad?
The thing is that Voltaire stood against all religions, and attacked Christianity in particular. Indeed, Fanaticism has been interpreted as an assault on that religion more than any other, although it is the stupidity and rigidity of religious dogma which is its true target.
Talking of which, I had a slightly bizarre email through the other day. It looks as though it is probably spam, but it doesn't seem to be selling or phising for anything other than my immortal soul. It purports to be from one Aaron Rand, and is entitled, "Your appointment with destiny". Naturally, I wondered if Destiny were some busty porno star who was eager to avail herself of the kind of hot and horny lovin' which only your humble Devil can deliver. How wrong I was!
This message is critical. And nobody wants your money, or any information from you. It is about your life, is more serious than a heart attack, and you only spite yourself to not carefully read every word here, and more, as the truth will be proven to you.
More serious than a heart attack? I'm all ears!
First, there is no such thing as an intelligent atheist.
OK, Aaron is not making any friends here...
Anyone who states there is no God does so in ignorance. Such a person may say, "Prove to me there is a God!" A person who believes may say, "Prove to me there is no God!" Whatever the case, it is clear the atheist cannot really know there is no God, the atheist having no objective evidence this is so, or, likewise, any real experience of the transcendent from within the confines of a limited material world and existence. Atheism is therefore an unintelligent stance. A person can only intelligently hold an agnostic position, or a position of faith.
The trouble is, Aaron, that it is not up to me to prove or disprove the existence of a god. There is no more evidence for god than there is for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If I said that there was an omnipotent mass of pasta and meatballs flying around but was unable to prove that it existed, then you'd say I was being silly. I mean, why should there be a god? For discussion, visit Talk Politics, who explain such concepts as reductio ad absurdum and other such things. I cannot prove that god does not exist: one cannot prove something's non-existence with empirical evidence: however, philosophical debate quite easily shows the absurdity of a god.
What it even less intelligent, then, is how a person can blindly go about all the transient and vain pursuits of a mortal life, knowing full well the rumor that there is an afterlife, a place called heaven, another called hell, yet learn precious little, if anything, of the substance behind these rumors. This is more than a physical life or death matter! This is a matter of eternal destiny, joy or misery, salvation or damnation! Would you not think that, just on the chance there is, especially, a place called hell, any intelligent person would at least read everything there is to know about such a claim, before deciding what to do, put aside every vain pursuit whatsoever, to get the full story behind where they may be ultimately destined, forever?
As a matter of fact, I've read fairly extensively about concepts and philosophy of both places, as I've always enjoyed fantasy writing. And that is what it is, fantasy.
It is time for you to wakeup to a very serious matter. You need to be thinking about where you are headed and where you will truly be when your life in this world is over, your mortal life like a flower that will wither and die, a life that could possibly end this very hour. Then what? Well, there will only be very bad news, or very good news for you, the bad first...
Inevitably, I'm doomed; doomed, I tell ye!
The email goes on to quote the scriptures left, right and centre. For pages and pages and pages. Whilst one appreciates Aaron's efforts to save my immortal soul, one can't help thinking that the loony bins should get their patients to take their lithium before allowing them near a keyboard. If anyone wants a full copy of the email, you can here.
See? I can be balanced. In this post, for instance, I have pointed out that Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are utter fucking loons who should be medicated for the good of us all...