Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This is what we feared during the cartoon thing

Remember the Danish cartoon flap? It was suggested by many that the Danish newspaper (Jyllandsposten) bore responsibility for the violent reaction. That the appropriate western reaction was to be more circumspect about what we say about and around Muslims. That our culture should be modified to accomodate the sensibilities of Arab politicians who thrive by whipping up violent religious frenzy. I argued against that position saying that it amounted to an unreasonable step towards censorship.

Well, Berlin's Deutche Oper company is cancelling a production of an Opera by Mozart, Idomeneo. You can find a link to a summary of the libretto here. The play is mostly about a King of Crete and some prisoners from Troy. The fear is that there will be violence because there is a scene where the title character presents the severed heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and ... drum roll please...Mohammed.

OK, so if the radical fundamentalists get a de facto ban over productions of European high culture, shouldn't the rest of us get to ban what is certainly libraries full of classical Arab and Muslim literature and culture that portrays everyone else in a bad light - or at all?

So where do we stand? OK, cartoons - out. Quotations of medieval Monarchs - out. Mozart operas with shocking scenes about religious figures - out. What's next? Rembrant van Rijn had some paintings depicting people in quasi-Muslim dress. Maybe that's offensive - let's ban it. What about Shakespeare's Othello: The Moor of Venice? Let's ban that too. Oh, and he mentions "moors" in a number of plays. Better ban those. What about Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio (Harem)? Gee, Mozart had Muslim issues. Let's ban all his operas - he had too many notes anyway.

This is exactly the kind of ridiculous censorship that I feared would result from the self-censorship approach coming out of the Danish cartoon crisis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why the hell did the Berlin opera company do that?

I mean, think of the logistics. Who goes to the opera anymore? How many Muslim immigrants to Germany go to the Berlin opera? I mean, if the opera company hadn't said anything, would anyone have ever noticed??

Of course, that's just the practical side. Morally it's disgusting to refuse to perform Mozart out of this kind of fear.

Shall we just have Al Qaeda make our lives easier and submit an index of prohibited works, like the Catholic church still does (quietly)? 

// posted by LTG