Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What If Islam Used Stick Figures?

Iran's Plans
In Colorado, an 11-year-old boy with attention deficit disorder (ADD) was hauled away from his home at night by police. He was arrested, cuffed, photographed and fingerprinted, booked and charged with a third degree misdemeanor, interfering with staff and students at an educational facility. The police wouldn't even let the boy's mother accompany him to the station.

What "Tim" (his family preferred to remain anonymous) did was to draw a stick figure of himself holding a gun pointed at four other stick figures with the words, "teacher must die". It sounds like a very disturbing incident, but Tim was merely following the advice of his therapist, who told his young patient that the drawings would release anxiety in lieu of disrupting the class.

Tim sketched the drawing, felt better after having done so, and was throwing the drawing away when the teacher spotted it. The school evaluated the boy, determined he posed no threat and ultimately returned him to class. Later that night, the police showed up and took him away. The family, of course, is weighing  its further responses.

After Columbine and subsequent tragedies, I understand the need for caution, but at what point do the citizens become alarmed by the prospect of being arrested for thoughts, or worse, perceived threats? Growing up in the sixties, I can't count the number of times I shouted to enemies, and friends with whom I was momentarily angry, "you're dead!" Obviously, it was an empty threat back then, one designed to let the object of my ire know that there would be a fight.

Today we live in a society where formerly tolerated speech is viewed as a crime, a serious threat no matter how innocuously intended. Yet on the world stage, we dismiss more direct rhetoric as meaningless. Case in point: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his repeated and boisterous threats to rid the world of the Jews.

Despite arguments by scholars over the translations of a speech Ahmadinejad delivered in 2005, in which it's been reported that the Iranian leader called for Israel to be "wiped off the map", it remains clear that the intent is to remove the Israelis from existence. (The ridiculous claim by defenders of Iran is that there are no Persian words meaning "wiped off the map").

Seeking to qualify the remarks, Arash Norouzi, who translated the Persian to English, claims that the speech merely intended that "this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time". And to add further ludicrousness to this madness is Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki,  who said at a news conference in February of 2006, "How is it possible to remove a country from the map? He is talking about the regime. We do not recognize legally this regime."

Whew! So the Iranians really don't want to wipe Israel off the map, they just want to eradicate the Jews. What a relief. A professor of Political Science at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia also dispelled the notion that Ahmadinejad uttered the phrase, "wipe Israel off the map". Shiraz Dossa put the fears to bed by assuring us, "There is a huge chasm between the correct and the incorrect translations. The notion that Iran can 'wipe out' U.S.-backed, nuclear-armed Israel is ludicrous".

OK, but that was five years ago. Since Ahmadinejad has been working feverishly since then to acquire nuclear weapons, one must wonder the odds today of such a confrontation with Israel.

I'm more curious about what may have happened if Professor Dossa had had Ahmadinejad in his class, and caught him with a stick figure drawing of the annihilation of the Jews?

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1 comment:

carmar76 said...

it is so frustrating to me how many of our rights we just whistle away. there was a time when sanity would have prevailed and SOMEONE would have stopped the police from invading and violating a CHILD like that. :( i guess those days - and the days of truly free speech - are like dust in the wind.

on the plus side - good post!