Two different news stories that are worth mentioning.
Locally, the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, has spoken out against the publication of the controversial Danish cartoons. From Bloomberg:
Singapore won't allow the publication of a controversial sequence of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said late Thursday, condemning the caricatures as insensitive.
Maintaining racial harmony is a higher priority than freedom of expression, Lee said in broad-ranging comments in a meeting with community leaders.
"It's wrong, it's provocative. We would not have allowed in Singapore,'' Lee said in the two-hour dialogue yesterday with 1,700 community leaders and students. "It was wrong for the Danish newspapers to publish the pictures, it was wrong for the other European newspapers to say, in solidarity, 'I will republish.'''
Singapore's Lee said that, in some circumstances, the maintenance of religious harmony is more important than freedom of expression. He cited the example of the city's ban on "The Satanic Verses,'' the novel by Salman Rushdie that incensed many Muslims and led Iran's former spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to sentence the author to death.
"In 1989, when Salman Rushdie wrote a book 'Satanic Verses,' which many Muslims found very objectionable, we banned it,'' Lee said. "People say, 'where is the freedom of expression?' We say maintaining harmony, peace, that's the first requirement.''
-- Bloomberg: Singapore Won't Allow Publication of Prophet Cartoons, Lee Says
Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for making these comments. I do greatly appreciate them. I only wish more government leaders around the world (particularly in Europe) would have made similar comments. If they had, this controversy would have died down long ago.
Insha'allah, I hope to finish a post soon that will mirror some of the Prime Minister's comments above.
Then there's William Bennett.
Bennett appeared on CNN recently (The Situation Room) with Wolf Blitzer and Jim Zogby. Bennett, who is supposedly Roman Catholic, made numerous false accusations against Islam (in the video, you can see Zogby - who is not Muslim - shaking his head in disbelief several times at Bennett's lies). Two of Bennett's statements deserve closer attention. The first is that:
"Here's the standard. Catholicism is as Catholicism does, Judaism is as Judaism does, and by God Islam is as Islam does and what it's doing right now I wouldn't wanted to associated with."
As numerous people wrote in commentary at both Crooks and Liars and AmericaBlog, if "Catholicism is as Catholicism does," does that mean that Catholicism and Catholics - and, by extension, William Bennett - condones pedophilia? Of course it doesn't, which is why Bennett's argument is so laughable. The other statement that Bennett made was:
"I wish they would speak out. I wish they would speak out and take to the streets like these people do, when we see the beheading and beating of people."
But Bennett himself believes that in certain circumstances, beheadings are "morally plausible."
"Bennett is a staunch supporter of the War on Drugs and has been criticized for his extreme views on the issue. On a television show, he said that a viewer's suggestion of beheading drug dealers would be 'morally plausible.'"
-- Wikipedia: William John Bennett
Way to go, Bill! You've just exposed yourself to be a hypocrite.
To see the video with William Bennett and Jim Zogby, click here (QuickTime). For a Winamp version, go to Crooks and Liars: Bennett slanders Islam.