Friday, February 22, 2008

The S-Word

Note the use of the s-word:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reaffirmed his predecessor's line on cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday, saying free speech should respect religious sensitivities.

"The Secretary-General strongly believes that freedom of expression should be exercised responsibly and in a way that respects all religious beliefs," his spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters. [emphasis mine]
Ah, should -- so common and so freighted, and so easy to throw around. Who can disagree with should? We should respect religious believers; we should be responsible with what we say. We should be humble, kind-hearted, and generous; we should reduce, reuse, and recycle; we should say 'please' and 'thank you' and mind our manners. We should clean up after ourselves and we should come to the aid of the less fortunate. We should get our prostates and breasts and colons checked regularly. We should eat several servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

Here are a few more shoulds that apply to the present case.

We should recognize that it's a very big world out there, and that however certain we are of the truth of our convictions, we should be aware that others don't see it the same way. We should not assume that they, in any sense, should see it our way without a good reason to do so.

When faced with something in the world that strikes us as insensitive, offensive, or disrespectful, we should thoroughly consider the options of minding our own goddamn business (turn off the tee-vee, close the book, cancel the magazine, unplug the internets, switch to another radio station, etc.) or setting the record straight with reasoned counterargument and, if desired, countervailing mockery; and we should thoroughly exhaust those options before throwing a riot, issuing death threats, or calling in the UN, which has far bigger problems to which to devote its limited resources. Or so it should recognize.



Zennalathas said...

People should remember that freedom is the operative word in freedom of expression.

Dale said...

Zen, yep. Which syllable of 'free' do they not understand? Oh what the god meme does to the mind.