What Is Tolerance?

Update: Sat 02-04-06 Embassies Burn in Syrian Capital

Maybe these folk don't know what tolerance or "a religion of love" are?

In light of the recent intolerance exemplified by tens of thousands muslims worldwide, I feel it necessary to point out that this sentence, spoken by a Roman Catholic, embodies the epitome of irony:

[Link] Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, a retired Vatican diplomat who has had many dealings with Arab countries, told an Italian newspaper that Western culture had to know its limits.

"Freedom is a great virtue but it must be shared and it must not be unilateral,"

(emphasis all mine)

I must not be unilateral. Agreed! Entirely so. Even these religious folk who have, apparently, not the faintest conception of what Freedom fully entails, are free to be, well... as I see them, chained to their beliefs. It is entirely their choice and I am just one of the millions who support that choice whole-heartedly, even as I shake my head in bewilderment at how anyone can possibly speak out of both sides of their mouth as the good Cardinal has done so ironically.

As I've written before, the tolerance that is lacking is not from the European press nor from anyone
else who creates or displays an image in violation of Islamic Law. It is NOT their belief so is in violation of nothing. Only one who claims such beliefs as their own can possibly violate their superstitions or admonitions. That is an intrinsic part of the definition of religion.

Muslims have the absolute right to abstain from creating or displaying images of anyone they want.
The injunction against displaying images of their erstwhile prophet makes maybe even more sense than a majority of other religious dogmas, if only because it has some sound psychological reasoning if one considers idols as an obsession. As alcoholism and opiate addictions (amongst many other things) demonstrate, obsessions tend to lead people away from living a physically healthy life.

I thought long and hard about posting pictures of the founder of Islam. I decided to compromise. The title of this post is linked to the intriguing
zombie's site which is filled with images of varied and sundry graphics, art and photos. I recommend it for its breadth of coverage of styles and themes.

My reason for compromising is simply that I have friends who are muslim and, without knowing their feelings on the matter, I'd rather play it safe and not offend them by posting pics of Mo; especially since I was particularly drawn towards some of the more gruesome representations on the site which related to Dante's Inferno.

As my final compromise, the following portrait is described by zombie thusly:

Though this would seem to violate Islamic and Iranian law, an expert in Iranian Shi'ite customs writes in to say that this particular painting is not forbidden because it depicts a young Mohammed before he was visited by the Angel Gabriel and started receiving his visions, which means that at this stage in his life he is not yet the Prophet.

I chose it in the hope that the artist may just get some business from this post.

I know that a lot of folks have been posting on this, but my direct thanks for a great couple of intelligent & funny posts goes to Alan @ Meet An Atheist. Reading his site helped me decide how to approach this post.

We've obviously taken a slightly different tack on this one, but this was like most of his posts in that reading them made me nod and say, "uh huh. yah mon, 's hard to argue with that..." Usually while I'm laughin' my ass off or shakin' my head at some here-to-fore unknown religious absurdity. Thanks bro!


  1. Just when I think I live in the most intolerant place on the planet, somebody surprises me. This time it was one of my students. I passed out a flier announcing the Valentines dance to my class. There was a note on the flier that read "All couples must be boy/girl." At first the kids were laughing at that but all of a sudden, a couple of girls just went off on them and the flier. They said that it wasn't a choice to be gay and that this was discrimination. It was one of the best teaching moments I've had.

  2. That is awesome!

    Thanks Bird. It's a great example of why I don't, no matter how whacked I can feel sometimes, Abandon All Hope. There's always something about which to feel good.


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