Thursday, February 09, 2006

Civility seems to be lost

Today on the way into the office, as I was walking through the square at MacArthur Memorial, I passed by a man who was yelling at a custodian and a security officer. The guy was yelling f-you and calling the custodian a "fat lesbian" and generally just out of control.

I thought perhaps he was off his meds.

But it brings to mind that we seem to be a world without civility, at least in major quarters. Ripped from today's headlines: Hezbollah Leader to Bush: "Shut Up." And buried in the article is this gem: Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah,
a black-turbaned, bearded cleric, demanded an apology for the cartoons and laws to prevent a repetition.

"There can be no settlement before an apology and there can be no settlement before laws are legislated by the European Parliament and the parliaments of European countries," he said.

Islamic nations should demand "a law committing the press and the media in the West that proscribes insulting our prophet. If this matter cannot be achieved that means they (West) insist on continuing this," he added.
So, let me get this straight. He's demanding that non-Islamic countries should pass laws forbiding insults being directed at the prophet Muhammad?

The issue of the cartoons is certainly a multi-faceted one, & one that I've yet been able to get my hands around the conflicting points of view & important beliefs: Free speech. Religious tolerance. Non-violence. Civility.

On the one hand, the cartoons can be seen as being in poor taste. And, we all ought to be at least tolerant of others' religions. And, free speech is important in a world in which freedom and democracy ought to thrive. I can see why Islamic believers might be upset over the cartoons, but are twelve pictures really enough to kill for?

Question: Can religious extremists -- of any faith -- be content to accept diversity?

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