Imagine a society where we are not allowed to talk about the president. We can’t talk about abortion or war. Because of the fear of offending people or the fear of a violent uprising, we don’t talk about politics, and there is no way we could possibly talk about religion.
This is the kind of society that is brought about when someone gives speeches and people choose to respond to them in an immature manner.
Freedom of speech is one of the most important rights we have as Americans and as human beings, even if not everyone respects that right. It has allowed us to voice our opinions and report things to the public that have changed the world for the better. However, this means people we don’t agree with also have the right. This even includes the people who offend us to our extremes.
On Sept. 12, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech at a university in Germany that quoted an emperor from the 1300s. The emperor made comments about the Islamic religion and their Prophet Muhammad that offended many Muslims around the world.
Last Thursday, the Associated Press reported that about 1,000 Muslim clerics and religious scholars met in Pakistan and demanded that the pope be removed from his position for his words during the speech.
One of the quotations the pope decided to use was, “Show me just what (Prophet) Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
It is understandable why something like this would offend followers of their Prophet Muhammad. I myself am neither Mulsim nor Catholic.
It is extremely offensive to most Muslims when people portray Prophet Muhammad in negative ways and say negative things about him. It should be known that this quote is taken out of context, though.
After the speech the pope said he was sorry that some people misunderstood what he was trying to say. It’s possible that this is just the pope trying to save himself some harsh criticism, but the speaker should be given the benefit of the doubt in any case.
If the pope was really trying do damage to Islam and say that it was a violent and evil religion, he would have confirmed the fact after the speech instead of apologizing for the misunderstanding. Instead of confirming the intent of his alleged evil words, he instead clarified what he was trying to say. He said he was using the quote from the emperor in an example of religion and violence, and in the context of the text of the speech he could be right.
This is a good example of speech, instead of violence, working to resolve problems. The pope gave a speech that offended people, people gave speeches in response to him, and the pope responded with a clarification. This way issues are resolved without getting out of hand.
There are groups that want to take this conflict to the next level, though hopefully it doesn’t come to that. Those scholars and clerics in Pakistan issued a statement after they met that said that anyone who insults Prophet Muhammad will face severe consequences.
This is not the way to go about things. Threats should not be used to resolve the major issues in the world. The only way billions of people can live together in the world without killing each other is through understanding. We can’t reach understanding with guns and bombs.
We have to use words.
This becomes a problem when groups around the world try to hinder free speech. Without free speech these words cannot be used, and people then resort to guns and bloodshed. Instead of threatening the ones who offend you, talk it out. You may find that they didn’t mean to make you as angry as they might have.
If you are going to go to extreme measures, wouldn’t you want to talk to them and make sure you knew who you were lashing out at first? Find out what they are about and what their intentions are before you take extreme measures.
That way a quotation from an emperor hundreds of years ago won’t have the potential to spark tension between the billions of Muslims and Roman Catholics in the world.