Friday, March 28, 2008

CD's nuts

How upset would you get over a 15-minute film critical of (or insulting to) your religion? Upset enough to kill someone?

UPDATE (3/29/08):

From the Hollywood Reporter:

AMSTERDAM -- The controversial anti-Muslim film by Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders has been removed from the Web by its British Internet provider, which said its employees have been seriously threatened.

"Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature and some ill-informed reports from certain corners of the British media that could directly lead to the harm of some of our staff, has been left with no other choice but to remove 'Fitna' from our servers," the company said.

The 15-minute short film was posted Thursday and taken down Friday and had been seen by some 3 million people. In the film, presented in Dutch- and English-language versions, Wilders claims that the Koran provokes violence, using Sept. 11, the attacks in Madrid and London and the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh as examples.

Good thing I saw the film, though the film doesn't say anything new and is no better in quality than the typical YouTube mashup. Still, the message is significant, as the film tries to establish a correlation between (a) violent verses in the Koran and (b) Muslim violence (and violent rhetoric) across the world.

I am, however, somewhat of a skeptic regarding the link between violent scripture and actual violence. I won't go so far as to claim that such scripture has no influence on human behavior, but given the prevalence of violence in the scriptures of other religions (not just Christian scriptures, either: Hindu scriptures, for example, also contain a smorgasbord of horrific images) and the relative lack of violence in those same religions (i.e., no Hindu, Christian, or Buddhist international terrorists), I think it is difficult to establish a clear causal connection. Far better would be to analyze the situation in terms of history and human psychology, paying attention to how the scriptures are received and interpreted by the mass of believers. This is why I insist that religions are as they are practiced: doctrine and scripture are not, cannot be, the essence of religion.

UPDATE 2: I forgot to credit Malcolm for the original link. Also, the movie hasn't really been removed: thanks to the stubborn and clever nature of those who won't let a message die, the LiveLeak movie has been transferred to Google Video.


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