28 September 2007

Death Threats for Cartoonist Just Aren't Funny

You'd think anytime a cartoonist is involved, it ought to be funny. But Abu Omar al-Baghdadi's offer of a reward for the death of Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks isn't funny at all.

Neither are Vilks's cartoons showing Mohammed as a dog. Gratuitously insulting a whole community of people, the vast majority of whom have never done anything to offend you, just isn't funny.

But the consequence of an unjustified insult should not be death. Of course it often is, when pride is at stake, or the offended person is a drunken idiot. But neither pride, nor drunkeness, nor religious beliefs justify putting a price on someone's head.

When I was 14, I got upset when people insulted me. Now I'm 42--if someone insults me it just makes me laugh. Like the guy a few years ago who called me un-American for opposing the war (which may be the last time someone's directly insulted me). Immediately after calling me un-American and a chicken, he ran out of the room without waiting for a response. I'm going to bother to get angry and call for his head? Seriously, I've got better things to do.

But that's the problem with fanatics--they don't have anything better to do than try to kill anyone who mocks them. The concept of live and let live--the true golden rule--is anathema to them.

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