Claiming speech is violence will result in violence.
Last week, Salman Rushdie was to address the Chautauqua Institution on the topic of freedom of speech. He has some experience with those who would stifle it. Thirty three years ago he wrote a book titled The Satanic Verses. He was in hiding for the next decade. And it turns out that wasn’t long enough.
For his title, he looked at a few words in the Quran, as interpreted by some Islamic historians. Islamic fundamentalists are triggered by the concept raised by those co-religionists as long ago as ~900AD. In any case, Rushdie was writing a novel. Fiction.
It’s no surprise, though, that Rushdie’s daring to discuss it was not well received in certain quarters. He upset the same Islamist fanatics who encouraged the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, the murder of Theo Van Gogh, the threats to the Jyllands-Posten for publishing cartoons, the mass shooting at Bataclan and Pulse, and other murders, arsons and riots too common to detail.
Fundamentalist Islam insists religion and the State are one. Naturally, then, Rushdie’s temerity provoked a Muslim cleric and Head-of-State (Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini) to issue a bounty for Rushdie’s death in 1989.
AKA a ‘fatwa.’ In polities where church and state are separated, we don’t yet have a special term for state religion-sanctioned murder. We are working toward it via the Church of George Floyd, the Cathedral of Transexual Pronounism, the Pieties of the Green New Deal, and the rite of Skin Color Original Sin, but we aren’t there yet.
That does not mean progress is not being made here. This week a militant follower of Islam with ties to Iran stabbed Rushdie a dozen times. As yet, the police can’t find a motive. You have to wonder how the find their own butts.
Rushdie’s stabbing is merely a reminder that “don’t say anything we don’t like to hear” fanatics can be dangerous. We have some of our own.
Every day needs to be ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed day.’ Here’s a comprehensive “compendium of images that depict Mohammed (the 7th-century founder of Islam), spanning all historical periods, cultures, genres, styles, formats and themes.”
Here’s my own paltry contribution.
Every day needs to be ‘Everybody write The Satanic Verses day.’
Rushdie’s stabbing is ethically no different from the persecution of Kyle Rittenhouse, the firing of James Damore, the threats against J. D. Rowling, or the demonization of Nicholas Sandmann.