Can We Be the Bigger Person?

                                                    (or are we slaves of our principles?)

Paul your Barista

Paul your Barista

Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul, I’ll be your barista today and I’m happy to be here once again. Please come in and make yourself comfortable. Willow has plumped the cushions and started a cozy fire so we can warm ourselves while we have a cuppa and chat. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our world-wide readership. We can relax with a cuppa and calorie free electronic sweets while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. How has your week been?

The horror of the terrorist killings in France this week has thrown a pall over international news. My heart and prayers go out to all those who have been hurt or killed and their families and friends. I abhor this behaviour on the part of those terrorists who are hiding behind the label of “Muslim”, a religion that is, at its heart, a study of peace. That said, I won’t elaborate as there has been ample coverage in the media and I am sure many are overloaded with the images and pain. As a non-practicing Christian I have some questions, though, and I wonder if any of you have wondered the same. Given that the Muslim religion makes it clear that it is forbidden to create an image of Mohammed, and the terrorists have made it clear that they will attack anyone who does, then why do people continue to create those images?

The examples that I have seen of those who have created images mocking Mohammed, have done so for purposes of creating controversy while being paid to make profits for companies. I don’t understand why they feel the need to mock the beliefs of a religious group. Is it the money they are paid to do their “jobs”? Is that the reason? Is it a hatred of Muslims that drives the need to produce cartoons of Mohammed? Those producing these images know before they do, that what they are doing is abhorrent to about a billion people. They know that there is a faction out there who has sworn to kill anyone who does this. What is the driving reason to produce those images? It is certainly not helping anyone else, other than providing a target for derision for those who enjoy belittling others.

Would you like a refill of your cuppa? A sweet perhaps?

Many of the world’s first nations media and leaders are standing solid on freedom of expression or freedom of speech as an inalienable right. That may be so but at what point does that turn into the promulgation of hatred? And even if one believes freedom of speech is inalienable, why would anyone do something that they are basically guaranteed will result in their death? As an old truck driver, I am reminded of a common adage that many drivers live: it is far better to go home alive than it is to be right and dead. That is used daily by virtually every driver out there. How many times do we avoid accidents when we have the right, legally, to kill someone? Answer: many times a day. There is a higher order of understanding above the rules- and that is “be safe”. Human life and life in general, is more valuable than any principle. The rules were made for Man but Man was not made for the rules.

Many will argue that if the Muslims are living in our country, then they should obey our rules. And really, that is a good perspective, generally. However there is an even higher perspective and that is: can we accommodate their beliefs without damage or harm to anyone in our current society? Are we big enough to look at ourselves through their eyes and understand what is important to them? By doing so, we can solve many of the confrontations and adversarial views. There are some things that we cannot accept for it would lead to the death or harm to others – such as Sharia Law. But there are other things, such as refraining from producing images of Mohammed, that are easy to do and do not reduce us one whit.

I do not believe that principles should have a higher importance than human life. And that goes for the Muslim terrorists who are attacking journalists and cartoonists. It also applies to us – we do not need to make images of Mohammed – it is not a valid argument, in my mind, that the Freedom of Speech trumps human life. In fact, this has been proven many times in our own courts – that the safety of people comes before any principle. The law is made to keep people safe, when it is doing otherwise, then we make an exception to that law. There is a legal argument in some jurisdictions that that which is necessary (saves lives for instance) is legal regardless of the written law. Freedom of Speech is NOT inalienable, human safety is inalienable.

Some interesting reading over here

I have to give credit for today’s topic to Doobster over at Mindful Digressions http://mindfuldigressions.com/2015/01/09/good-old-american-censorship-redux/ .He did a post that triggered these thoughts and although we do not agree, he has the right to his opinion– Ha!

Personally my week has been rather uneventful – hiding inside from the bone numbing cold of -34 earlier in the week. Other than that, not much exciting. How about you? Anything exciting in your world this week?

That’s about all we have room for this week, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and watch the fire. Sweets anyone? Please join me in thanking Willow for her invitation to tea. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Willow’s other posts while you’re here. Willow is over there serving her guests and chatting it up. Let’s go see how she is today. Have a great week. We look forward to seeing you back here for tea again next week.

And of course  the


over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s

50 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Doobster418
    Jan 10, 2015 @ 20:00:38

    Thanks for inviting me to coffee with you today, Paul. I enjoyed it. I’m glad that my post inspired you, and you’re right, we don’t see eye to eye on the matter. But I’m not going to get into posting my comments in response to your thoughts about depictions of Mohammed here, since I said just about everything I have to say about that topic during our lively discussion in the comments section of my post. But thanks for the link to here and, as always, I enjoy reading your well crafted words as well as our spirited debates.


  2. Paul
    Jan 10, 2015 @ 20:18:05

    Thanks so much for allowing me to guest post here Willow! It is a pleasure as always.


  3. Diana
    Jan 10, 2015 @ 20:30:11

    Glad you stopped by for the coffee share!


  4. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Jan 10, 2015 @ 21:30:13

    It’s a shame and a devastating loss to the families who have needlessly lost loved ones. That’s all I’m going to say.
    You’ve set a fabulous table, but as usual, although you cakes and sweets are calorie-free, I’ll just enjoy a coffee. Maybe add a drop of brandy against this Arctic cold?
    We’re freezing here as well. Keep warm, Paul. Until next time.


  5. philosophermouseofthehedge
    Jan 10, 2015 @ 23:00:23

    I there you are…been wandering from coffee to coffee and am just sloshing at this point. Nothing like a warm gathering of friends on a cold dreary day.
    We have a large Muslim population locally – like any group there’s a wide range of opinions among them.
    A question posed. Is it not sad to silence any song bird – even if one is particularly harsh and irritating – and considered simply unwelcomed noise by some? The chorus would not be full range and something would be lost?
    Satire is an ancient time honored form of expression – from before Greece – before Egypt….Satire requires knowledge and intellectual effort by both the reader and the author. Human foibles and behavior are such fertile grounds for satire. To silence writers, artists, poets? Now that is troubling.
    I often run across ideas or products of minds I do not care for, yet I do not react violently or kill anyone because I dislike what is said or presented.
    Sadly real debate and civil discourse skills seem to be lost and being replaced by knee jerk emotional rants and unreasonable demands.
    What is playing out in France – and other places across the globe – is a cycle to and fro for territory and conflicts of ideologies. Ancient history ……again.
    Willow, it is such a delight as always. Hope your week is overflowing with sunny thoughts.


    • willowdot21
      Jan 10, 2015 @ 23:16:21

      I am beginning to slosh about too! I think I am nearer to your idea of the Muslin situation in Paris I feel that they have no right to impose their beliefs on us than we have on them …. and to kill for such reasons is barbaric. But I must not say too much , Paul will be along to chat very soon. Welcome again !! 🙂


    • Paul
      Jan 10, 2015 @ 23:37:09

      In general, I don’t disagree Phil. This is a case where that satire is abhorrent to about a billion people – as a part of their religious beliefs. When multiple cultures live together, it is inevitable that the actions of one will upset the other. To make integration possible it is necessary to sometimes make small allowances and adjustments. We are being asked to not satirize one character – this is not changing our world, it is not interfering with artistic or cultural norms. Our society has all kinds of unspoken taboos – for instance what do you think would happen to a cartoonist who drew children being raped? He would be lynched by the same people who are now crying Freedom of Speech when it comes to Mohammad. The small concession needed to soften the acceptance of another culture is trivial. And it goes so far. And it does not need to be a law – just a common sense suggestion, for purposes of easing cultural integration. The value of having another culture as a part of our country is huge – export opportunities, new genetic material, different perspectives, value brought form their home countries, etc. I am not suggesting any changes that would harm anyone or even cause undo anxiety. On a personal level we do this everyday. What is the saying about having a good friend? Keep the wheat and throw the chaff. We would think nothing of say, putting our dog in a separate room when a friend who is afraid of dogs visits. It doesn’t mean the dog is being mistreated or that we are being inconvenienced – it simply means that we often make small considerations for others. Why can’t that be done for a culture as easily as a peson?

      Anyway, thanks so much for dropping by for a hot cuppa and a seat by the fire. You must be getting chilled in this climate Phil Please feel free to dop by for a cuppa and a sweet anytime.


  6. TanGental
    Jan 10, 2015 @ 23:30:18

    Well this has stimulated the old juices. I’m not with you Paul, more with the others championing the right for people to be offensive, without fear of thugs murdering them. I’m also very reluctant to see these terrorist acts as anything other than murderous thugs rather than some clash of ancient cultures. There are as many splits inside Islam as in Christianity and the bloodshed in the middle east is as much about power and control of one sect over another as it is about some west versus east clash. If we allow ourselves, in our use of language to adopt the war on terror mantra, the ancient history mentioned about we inflate what are awful criminal acts into something they are not and we give oxygen to the nutters by so doing. We also make it easier for the governments around us to use this engendered fear to be the instruments by which the very same liberties we agonise over are eroded. Detention without trial, justified torture, extraordinary rendition all in the name of keeping us safe. Not in my name thank you. Perhaps the old Sufi quote should be the mantra: this too shall pass.


  7. Paul
    Jan 11, 2015 @ 00:43:02

    Have a cuppa and settle in by the fire TG. Thanks so much for stopping by, your visit is greatly appreciated. I see your point that we stand to lose freedoms if we give in. It is entirely possible that this situation – with terrorist activities killing people in their own cities – may be intractable. At the moment it seems that we are vulnerable and I do not see any activities that are addressing this – other than increased military and police presence. It is entirely possible that we (first world countres) may have to declare war on Muslims and eradicate them in order to stop this terrorism. My suggestion that we try to accomodate them in small ways, removes at least some of the reasons or triggers that terrorists are using to justify their behaviours. How hard is it to try? Is it more difficult or dangerous than not trying at all? No one seems to have any suggestions except to get rough with the perpetrators. Honestly, they are more likely to get killed at home than they are here, so what we threaten them with hardly makes an impression. Life in prision here is likely more comfortable than freedom at home. We have no way to threaten these terrorists- no grip on their actions, and they believe that if they die in the name of Allah, then they go to their heaven. How does one fight that? The only way I currently see is to eradicate them one by one. Unless you would like to witness a government approved genocide, there have to be some other things to try. I am suggesting trying something else and believe me you are in good company TG, few want to do anythong short of killing or jailing those who commit such heinous crimes. Which by the way, i agree with completely – meanwhile trying to reduce the number of times that has to be done.

    Thanks so much for the visit TG. i hope you enjoyed the coffee and sweets. I enjoyed your thoughts and comments. Please drop by anytime for a cuppa amd a chat.


  8. markbialczak
    Jan 11, 2015 @ 00:44:58

    I’m glad you have your freedom to write your opinion here, Paul. I think everybody in the world should be free to worship or not worship as they see fit. Should any people kill in the manner of Paris for going against their religion? No. So that’s where I differ from you in this case, sir. Thanks for giving me the chance to share my thought here, Paul and Willow. It is a sad week indeed.


    • willowdot21
      Jan 11, 2015 @ 07:37:36

      I agree Paul this killing must stop these terrorists will keep coming they are radicalized they believe that if they die in this way they go to heaven. I do not no the answer but I am scared. Paul is on his way. Xx


    • Paul
      Jan 11, 2015 @ 11:04:28

      Mark, I agree with you whole heartedly – this killing must stop and we need to do whatever it takes to stop it. We are not succeeding. I said clearly in my post that I abhor the actions of the terrorists. What I am proposing is that we do not hold Freedom of Speech inalienable and we just stop making images of Mohammed. That is not backing down, it is not going soft, it is not in any way reducing the horror of the killings and the wrongness of the actions of the “Muslims”. What do you propose to reduce or stop these killings Mark? I can see clearly that if we continue the way we are, in the future the population and govts will tire of simply reacting to terrorism and they will start to take offensivee actions to stop it. And that will mean going back into theMiddle east and many will die – on both sides as well as innocents and bystanders. It will mean segregating the Muslim population and marginalizing them. We do not need another apatheid in the world. We need to put our heads together and find other ways to stop or reduce terrorism. If they are using excuses for their actions – remove the excuses. It is at least worth a try.

      Thaks so much for dropping by Mark , it is always a pleasure to see you here. Please feel free to come by for a cuppa and a chat anytime.


      • markbialczak
        Jan 11, 2015 @ 12:51:32

        As much sense as there is to your logic of stopping the action that caused the killing, Paul, I will never, ever agree to a statement that includes a choice of “not hold Freedom of Speech inalienable.” That’s the rub for me. Freedom speech has to be a paramount freedom. It would be backing down. No, I don’t want rescalation of war as the other choice, I don’t want more lives lost as the other choice. I’m not smart enough to figure out another alternative, Paul, unfortunately. But as an American and a journalist, I can’t abandon that principle as an unalienable right.

      • willowdot21
        Jan 11, 2015 @ 12:56:44

        Yes Mark what would come next after the abandonment of freedom of speech! We can not let go because they will take a mile. By they, I mean the radical terrorists. xxx And Paul I am not arguing I am stating my point view. We all still have freedom of speech! xx

      • Paul
        Jan 11, 2015 @ 13:17:56

        I kind of figured that out Mark – freedom of Speech appears to be a principle that Americans will die for. So be it. You are as smart as anyone Mark – the brightest and the best have not been able to come up with any answer. I truly fear the answer will come as another war. That’s what motivates my comments – not a do-gooder desire to solve the world’s problems. But if there is no other alternative, then I guess that is the way to must go.

        Thanks so much for the visit and for readingand commenting. Much appreciated.

  9. simon7banks
    Jan 11, 2015 @ 19:00:09

    There are some important questions here, but I think it’s vital to separate the question of whether a magazine SHOULD publish a cartoon from the question of whether it should have the right to do so. Media outlets make editorial decisions all the time, to publish one thing and not another. Whether people will be hurt by something should be a factor in such decisions, but not the only factor. We wouldn’t decide not to publish something against slavery for fear of offending slaveholders and some material may offend honest bankers and yet be right to publish because of what it shows about exploitative ones. The right to free speech may be restricted, especially in extreme circumstances – for example, hardly any non-pacifists would argue that a country in an all-out war should let its journalists publish whatever they like including military secrets. It may also be defensible for the state to legislate against some particularly hurtful lies damaging to all society – racist ones, for example, or the myth about Jews killing Christian children – since libel and slander apply only to individuals or companies not to whole classes of people, so civil action can’t be taken. But any restriction of freedom of speech should be done reluctantly and as a last resort.

    Editors can still decide it would be irresponsible to publish something.

    As for the recent attacks in France, they were condemned by many Muslims and one Muslim died trying to stop one. I believe the attackers were looking for an excuse to strike out, so if the magazine hadn’t published a cartoon of Mohammed, they’d have found another target. After all, police officers were shot in cold blood in the street and a kosher supermarket was attacked. Neither the supermarket staff nor the shoppers nor the police officers had anything to do with the cartoon.


    • willowdot21
      Jan 11, 2015 @ 19:10:41

      Sad, difficult times! Welcome Simon Paul is on his way! xx


    • Paul
      Jan 11, 2015 @ 20:16:52

      Thanks for dropping by Simon! You bring up some excellent points – the distinction between “can” and “should” is an important one. It truly baffles me why anyone would print a cartoon of Mohammed for purposes of selling a newpaper when they KNOW it will insult a billion people – granted not people who will by their papers – and cause violence. What is to be gained from such an action? The media are always saying that the public has a right to know – I don’t understand what printing such a cartoon tells the public. Why is it inportant to belittle a whole culture and their strongly held beliefs? I find the first world nations to be very bully-like in their actions, they often do things without a care to how they are impacting others lives. They do it because they can, not because they should. Which brings us back to “should”. Many call it their inalienable right to free speech – I do not find denigrating a culture’s beliefs for no purpose other than entertainment, to be an inalienable right. In fact it smacks of a hate crime. I know it wouldn’t meet the criteria but it certainly feels that way. If it were individuals it would be classified as harrassment or bullying – and so would be illegal. Why is it that the same actions against a culture is called an inalienable right?

      Honestly Simon, it is possible that refraining from publishing such cartoons may not make any difference as to the number and mortality of the attacks. But it would remove an excuse they are using to justify their abhorrent behaviour. I believe as you do that freedom of speech should not be tampered with except in rare cases – However, I’m not sure how to express the suggestion that it would only make sense to respect the cultures of others and not denigrate them unless there is harm occurring to a person or group of persons. It does us no harm to refrain from publishing cartoons of Mohammed.

      I too suspect this is only an excuse for violence – as you pointed out they also killed Jews at another site who were not related to the cartoon. But we need ideas to help prevent this terrorism or our gov’ts will start another war when the terrorism becomes intolerable. Any suggestions?

      Thanks so much for dropping by for a read and comment Simon. I appreciate your thoughts on the topic. Please drop by again.


      • List of X
        Jan 21, 2015 @ 05:38:32

        Paul, do you really believe that not publishing cartoons would remove any excuses for violence? Because, as you said, those Jews in the Kosher marked were not killed because of the cartoons. And just to add to that, neither were 9/11, attacks in London, Madrid, Boston, Moscow, Mumbai, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, and many other countries, countless attacks of Sunnis against Shiites and vice versa.

      • willowdot21
        Jan 21, 2015 @ 06:34:53

        Sad but true i agree, Paul is on his way with coffee.

      • Paul
        Jan 21, 2015 @ 06:56:57

        Hi X! I certainly don’t think it will stop all violence, for sure. But it serves three purposes, 1) it may save even one violent act, and what’s a life worth? 2) It moves us closer to being innocent and 3) it signals a desire to find a mutually acceptable solution – a trial ballon so to speak. Ummm, there is a fourth as well, but not so nice – if we try and the violence continues it helps to justify a military response — see , we did what you asked and you kept killing innocents, so now we will have to nuke you bastards to get you to quit. Hang on! Oh, and by the way when you’re gone we’ll have a memorial with large cartoons of Mohammed’s face glowing in the mushroom clouds above the Middle East. Sianara suckers!.

      • List of X
        Jan 21, 2015 @ 13:51:26

        And you thought I wouldn’t find your guest post, didn’t you? 🙂
        There is truth in all three of your points, but, unfortunately, we’re dealing with people on the wide range from peaceful to violent radicals. And while the peaceful part of the spectrum may take this as an olive branch, the violent bunch, who are in it to win it – as we both know, it’s not just about the cartoons – they will most likely see it as a sign of capitulation, and will just keep on pressing and finding other justifications.
        Surely, if there were no cartoons, those 12 people at Charlie Hebdo would have lived. But then these terrorists who were already trained in the Middle East and already armed with AK47s would have attacked something else – a school, a synagogue, or a subway station.
        Also, your no-cartoon solution basically requires 100% cooperation of every one of 5.5 billion non-Muslims, so i’d say it’s way out of the realm of possible. Remember, there was just one guy in Florida who said he wanted to burn a Koran, and that set off massive protests all over the Muslim world. Because that guy may be a nobody, but that radical bunch is very interested in making sure that the whole Muslim world is aware and gets offended.

      • Paul
        Jan 21, 2015 @ 21:18:09

        Shucks, I thought that i could hide over here in England and not get caught posting. Ha!

        I don’t think it is reasonable to say that if the terrorists had not shot up Hebdo then they would have killed an equal number of people in another location.

        I agree that in the big picture, that the terrorists will kill regardless of what we do or don’t do. You know, here in Ottawa if you have a pool you have to have an 8 foot fence around it. If the fence is even 1 inch lower than that and anyone gets into the pool area and drowns, then you are legally responsible – even if they break the gate to get in. There was one case where the owner had a 7 foot fence and a group of teens who were robbing houses climbed it and one fell in the pool and drowned. Even though the dead teen had burglary tools on him and some loot in his pockets from a robbery a few houses down, the pool owner was jailed for the death of the teen – because his fence was not 8 feet. Essentially the 8 foot fence renders the owner morally correct and blameless. That’s what the law is really for – not to keep people out.

        Well, the images of Mohammed are like that. The Musilm extremists use the images as a means to justify their violence (your fence isn’t high enough). Remove that and we are now blameless for any attacks (like installing the 8 foot fence). So when the attacks continue, which they will, we would have 1) appeased the peaceful Muslims such that they may consider helping to identify terrorists in their community and 2) Shown the world that we are trying to offer an olive branch and that it is being ignored and refused. This will build a more collaborative relationship wtith other nations when it comes time to take action.

        It really is not a big deal and will not turn the tide of terrorism, but every little bit helps. As far as banning the cartoons – i don’t think that is doable either.But if the UN got together and passed a resolution that the countires of the world did not support the depiction of any images of Mohammed, even with no legal teeth, it would make a clear statement to the peacful Muslims that we care. And how hard would that be?

        The obvious big problem is how to separate the extremists from the regular Muslims. I have no idea how to do that short of having Muslims report on each other. And they are not likely to do that. The issue is that the world is getting tired of the terrorists and as they continue their killing – which they will – all Muslims will be punished, guaranteed. It it will likely involve another war and even more innocent people killed.

        I don’t see this turning out well X. And in that vein, I don’t see why asking non- Muslims to refrain for drawing images of Mohammed would be such a big problem – especially if it saves even 1 human life.

        Thanks so much for the dropping by X and now I’ll have to find another place to hide – Ha! just kidding – Willow here is an excellent host and she allows me to ramble on about most anything.


      • willowdot21
        Jan 21, 2015 @ 21:29:40


  10. ~ Sadie ~
    Mar 01, 2015 @ 00:29:27

    I believe in free speech and freedom of the press. Having said that, I live by the adage that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should – and that applies to so many things . . .
    Great post, Paul, & I am going to actually try & have coffee with you tomorrow, as opposed to weeks later 😉 Hope this finds you doing well & staying warm!!


  11. Paul
    Mar 01, 2015 @ 00:58:55

    Thanks Sadie! I am pleased you got what I was saying.- just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.


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