In high school, I saw plenty of teenage girls get knocked up by their boyfriends. The inequities in social status and treatment between the teen fathers and the girls gave me a low regard of teenage boys and sex, and of course of teenage boys and pregnancy. But of course, the operative word here is "inequity."
Lisa Clark, 37, of Georgia, is about to crank out a kid she made with the 15 year old friend of her son. The two have since married, but there are apparently a lot of legal issues with that. I.e., she shouldn't have banged a minor, yadda, yadda ... so her husband is in a juvenille home and she's legally not supposed to contact him. Now teen hubby has run away. The kid's grandmother thinks Ms. Clark has helped him escape, a charge she of course denies. But I think I believe Clark. I have to say, this is one teenage father whom I totally support in his child abandonment. A 37 year old woman knows how to use birth control. Besides. He's not even legal working age, yet. She'll have to support both of them and their baby. Why not just cover the baby and let this manipulated kid start over?
... in the meantime, I'm not sure what to make over the whole Muslim anger at the cartoon issue. I know that it is against Islam to show depictions of Allah and the Prophet, so I can understand that offense, if I cannot empathize with it. Frankly, I'm more disconcerted about the depiction of Muhammad with the bomb-turban. That just seems to be asking for trouble and offensive even to me. But I'm just confounded by the "Muslim worldd" reaction.
I totally agree that the cartoons were in poor taste, if for no other reason that the depictions were anti-Islamic. But then again, art and satire are made all the blasted time that either mock Christ, Christianity, or highly regarded Christian icons (some so highly regarded by some that they would argue for the same sacredness as the Muslim regard for images of Allah and Muhammad), as well I'm sure as other world religions; I just happen to live in a country where Christianity is the most spoofed, for good or ill. As for widely argued mockery, Piss Christ and that piece in NYC with a madonna made of elephant dung come to mind immediately. And for as hypersensitive as the "Concerned" Women of America and the 700 Club style minions are, I have yet to see them mask their faces, grab automatic weapons and storm a museum to take patrons hostage for defiling the sanctity of Christianity. What? Some bigotted Dane depicted Muhammad? I know! Let's take a German hostage for a couple of hours to make a point! Yeah! Islam is peace, you Eurotrash infidels! And because you don't believe Islam is the peace of God, I will hurt you!
And then there's the whole idea that Denmark and much of Europe is somehow more tolerant than the US. For as troubled as I am for the state of our country under the current reactionary, sour presidency (that masks greed as compassion in the name of God , no less; talk about infidel) I at least am happy that we still cherish religious freedom enough here to let people wear what they want to wear and to do at least do our best to accomodate them. Frankly, I am concerned about how a fully ubayaed woman in the airport might get through security without showing her whole face and a pat down; it makes me nervous, I won't lie. But I am so glad for organizations like the ACLU who'll at least challenge rules and impositions so that she may express her religious faith as she sees fit. France on the other hand is so afraid of anything other than a diluted "only do it until your grandmother dies, so she'll stop bugging you" version of faith, that they outlaw headscarves in schools. Quick! Make that 13 year old girl show her hair, fast! Liberte, Egalite and especially fraternite (if you know what I mean - wink, nudge) demand it! No wonder Muslims there feel disenfranchised!
Earlier this week, on NPR, I learned that the Netherlands (or was it Denmark?) is considering completely outlawing the burkah. And they think it will pass legislation! Here's the kicker, among the Muslim community in the Netherland, only some ridiculously low number, like 50, nationwide, actually wear a full burkah. "It oppresses women," is the rationale. Really? I personally agree in philosophy that disallowing a woman to show her face in public is sincerely oppressive, but forcing a stranger not to wear a masking garment in public because you disagree with it morally, is just as oppressive as forcing someone to wear something so obscuring in public because of a moral basis. Just like I wouldn't want to wear an ubaya if I visited Saudi Arabia, neither would I want to stop a Saudi woman from wearing one here. The rub though is that in Saudi, you may not express any religious views other than those imposed on you. In Europe, it's supposedly the opposite. I thought Europe was over sumptuary laws. I guess I was wrong.
If the riots in France last fall taught us anything, it's that the US isn't the only country that has problems communicating across a cultural divide. It shows that just because you make a good decision about one war doesn't mean you're somehow more sympathetic to the Muslim minority within your own borders.
Getting back to the original cartoon conundrum, I think my take on it is this. Everyone needs to take a step back and re-evaluate everything. And the chill way the hell out.
Europe: Do not be so frackin' naive as to think publishing these cartoons wouldn't have some major fall out. The rest of the world is not nearly as agnostic as you are and so will take offense at some satires, that's just how it goes. And, if you're going to spoof a religion that outlaws depictions of God and his prophet, and whose most revered clergy issue fatwahs daily about every little criticism of the religion, expect a fully hostile fall out. In fact, expect gunfire in the street and chants for your death. Expect hostage-taking. Because that seems to be the party standard in a lot of these places.
Islamic Fundamentalists: Get over it. Those European editors come from a different tradition than you do and don't have the empathy for anti-icon philosoph that you do. They just don't get it. And it is totally not worth creating a jihad over. Wanna really be effective with the west? Pressure your governments to ISSUE AN OIL EMBARGO! Are your local leaders making your lives any happier than western imperialism? Plus, I have a distinct feeling that for every one of you guys in front of an EU embassy shooting off his gun and for every one of you calling for a hostile reaction in the mosques, there are at least a thousand who are appropriately offended (or not at all) and just want to go to work and feed their kids without having to worry that an errant bullet from some pissed off protestor is going to fall on their head and leave their wife and kids without a breadwinner. It is so not worth all the flag burning and infidel cursing.
Though I must say, it is kind of refreshing to read that they are now chanting, "Death to Denmark" in the streets. It's like Europe is finally getting invited into the hatefest that was solely our party for two decades!