My Soon-to-be-Ex-Sister-in-Law sent me this editorial
, written by literary theorist and law professor Stanley Fish, and asked me what I thought about it.
I figured I'd share my opinions with the class:
As much as I hate using a man's name to make a point, you can tell Mister Fish is old, because his thinking stinks.
Who the hell am I kidding? I love
doing stuff like that!
The first clue is the title. "Letting it all hang out?" Wow. I was so surprised about that that I almost dropped my Hai Karate aftershave, man.
Seriously, though, this guy's setting up liberal straw men, but he's not even doing a good job knocking them down."The first tenet of the liberal religion is that everything (at least in the realm of expression and ideas) is to be permitted, but nothing is to be taken seriously."
Umm. It's not a religion, dude. That you think it so shows not the failure of liberalism, but your failure to grasp basic concepts of freedom in society. Not every expression is to be permitted. Inciting a crowd to riot is not permitted under freedom of expression; nor is yelling 'fire' in a movie theater. And as far as taking things seriously--who is he to decide who does and does not take any particular point of view 'seriously?'
Then he goes on to denigrate the concept of 'respect:' "The thing about respect is that it doesn't cost you anything; its generosity is barely skin-deep and is in fact a form of condescension: I respect you; now don't bother me."
If anyone's doing any condescending, it's you, Mister Fish. Respect, to me, means a deferential regard towards something. If I have a deferential regard towards someone's religious views, it means I accept that this person has a specific viewpoint, and (assuming he or she is not being hypocritical,) has just as much a right to that viewpoint as I do to mine. It does not mean that I have to agree with it, nor will I feel the need to make him or her agree with my differing view. Where is there condescension in that?
If, however, I espouse respect, yet my actions towards you and/or your beliefs show a lack of respect, now that's
some condescension. I would contend that this sort of behavior is more in line with the current Neocon way of doing business. Perhaps Fish is doing a bit of transference here, no?
I also find it fascinating that he has the power to read minds. After all, he knows that "the editors who have run the cartoons do not believe that Muslims are evil infidels who must either be converted or vanquished. They do not publish the offending cartoons in an effort to further some religious or political vision; they do it gratuitously, almost accidentally."
Hold on there, Kreskin. You must be losing something in the telepathic transatlantic translation. Jyllands-Posten is one of the most conservative of Danish newspapers--sort of the Manchester Union-Leader of Denmark, not some moonbat bastion of liberal causes. And did you know that the very same Flemming Rose who ran these cartoons had previously rejected a series of cartoons lampooning Jesus and a host of other Christian icons on the grounds of being too offensive? Rose explained that he used the term 'too offensive' because it was more polite than saying the cartoons were just plain bad. In what world is 'too offensive' more polite than 'just plain bad'? And have you seen the cartoons they did
run? They make the guy who draws 'Marmaduke' look like the love child of Rembrandt and Mark Twain.
Just for fun though, let's follow through on his way of thinking. Let's assume that he's right when he says: "The belief in the therapeutic and redemptive force of dialogue depends on the assumption (central to liberalism's theology) that, after all, no idea is worth fighting over to the death and that we can always reach a position of accommodation if only we will sit down and talk it out."
I guess that means that there are
ideas worth killing over. So, in his view, it's OK for us to kill Muslims because of our differing belief system? That must mean then that, since they believe differently than us, that it's OK for Muslims
to kill us
Or does he espouse to a double standard?
And what is wrong with believing that we should sit down and discuss our differences? In the end, when everyone's tired of killing, isn't that what we do anyhow?
From where I sit, dude is just using this incident as a launching point for another typical Conservative swipe at the First Amendment. Which, of course, is a bit strange, seeing as how none of the players in this story happen to be from the US. Typical.