410 George Carlin & Religion

George Carlin & Religion

… so, in response to my Religion blog (which was set off by having been sent a ”Muslims have shit for brains” cartoon) I got this email from my reader …

Hi Carsten, call me flippant or facetious ... but I prefer to ‘keep-it-light’ and ‘satirize’ the whole thing, rather than bury myself in serious, thought-provoking and depressing discussion on the subject. Which is why I have always been a fan of George Carlin, who was a master of entertaining satire …

Hi ...

no, not just flippant or facetious … I do think you are on the wrong track with this one; I stand by how I regard offence against people’s particular beliefs, I reckon we don’t have the right to talk in a derogatory manner to any person or group about their peculiarities, such as their religious bent. You know, insulting Islam, i.e. publishing material that demeans Muslims - and purporting to be superior to them - is a cheap thrill and doesn’t get us far ... other than suicide bombings and more recruits to IS.

Methinks, if the West had given Islam its dues (beginning with not throwing Palestinians out of Palestine, or at least giving them their own state alongside Israel) we wouldn’t have this terrorism mess. Furthermore, to bury myself in serious, thought-provoking discussion I do not find depressing … it feeds me, and as I resist the temptation to indulge in meaningless insults, I feel I am constructive and that I contribute in a meaningful way.

Let me side-track for a moment: In the beginning of the year we had a great controversy in Australia, when our Attorney General, George Brandis, defended in parliament people's right to be bigots. This was after conservative media figure Andrew Bolt was found to have broken the law over two articles he wrotethat “would have offended a reasonable member of the ... community.” (Specifically, the case was about offending Aboriginals, where he claimed "It is so hip to be black" and Aboriginal did so for personal gain.)

The issue here is one of the right to free speech - which most definitely should be defended - and whether it should go so far that "people have the right to be bigots." Senator Brandis said "In a free country people do have rights to say things that other people find offensive or insulting or bigoted." He promised to amend the Racial Discrimination Act by repealing section 18C ... which makes it unlawful for someone to publicly "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" a person or a group of people.

His plans ultimately were scotched in Parliament.

So where is the boundary? Is the case we're dealing with here just the expression of an opinion and/or satire and should it be tolerated as free speech?

This is the thing: There is a huge difference between well crafted satire and dumb, crude "Muslims have shit for brains” insults mascarading as free speech.

But, hey, maybe I'm making too fine a point here. And just to throw a spanner in the works, I have an essay on BLASPHEMY in my book with no title, but instead three definitions for the term en.light.en.ment ... discuss.

Of George Carlin's comedy I like especially his linguistic gymnastics and his ascerbic, spot-on social satire (indeed including his rants about religion - they're hilarious); not for nothing is he considered one of the best comedians ever. Thanks for reminding me of him; I recently was more in tune with contemporary comedians like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (of Comedy Central) - I devoted an essay to Stephen Colbert's concept of TRUTHINESS - and our own Shaun Micallef.

Anyway ... over to you, Carlin, you rascal: