In a week in which most of the mainstream media managed to focus on a member of the royal family’s anatomy, contrast was provided by a Californian twat producing an amateurish anti-Islam video for the Media For Christ group, which went viral on YouTube, 21st-century technology inflaming machismo already fuelled by religious extremism.
People died, but YouTube refused to take down the video. ‘We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,’ a YouTube statement said in defence of a video which enables viewers to enjoy a depiction of a religion’s prophet as a fraud, womaniser, homosexual and madman. These are not uncommon proclivities among many faith-based cults but it is hardly helpful to make such unsubstantiated claims in a tense international environment.
Unfortunately the unrest spilled over to Sydney, where protesters, most of them peaceful, clashed with police and some poor child was made to carry a placard about beheading. Fortunately our political leaders supported our mainstream Islamic community and a spokesperson for Muslims Australia (www.muslimsaustralia.com.au) condemned the extremism. In this context it is wise to remember that it was a so-called Christian group which incited hatred in the first place and that Australians other than Muslims are capable of behaving like dickheads, too – witness the 2005 Cronulla riots. The US’s policy of forcibly intervening in the internal disputes of the Middle East probably hasn’t helped much either.
While I’m more inclined to the late Christopher Hitchens’s view that ‘religion poisons everything’ (http://slate.me/s24XAY) – apart from St Vincent De Paul which sells some great secondhand T-shirts and the Salvos who feed the poor – I’m happy for people to believe all kinds of incredible things before breakfast if they don’t upset a secular society striving for egalitarianism and empathy. What does annoy me is that the so-called secular society so often panders to the whims of religions which would prefer that everyone toe their party line.