July 2, 2008

Dhimwits in Scotland

The police department in Tayside, Scotland was handed an unsolicited shitstorm recently when it circulated the poster illustrated to the left to advertise its new phone number for non-emergency calls. Now, if you ask me, it's a perfectly nice, if somewhat boring, poster. The puppy is cute and captures the viewer's attention; the visual image works nicely with the bobby's hat.

But Muslims in Tayside are upset because it associates the police with dogs, whom they consider to be ritually unclean. So the police have issued a formal apology to the Muslim community and stopped distributing the posters.

I can't even type that last sentence without shaking my head in disgust. Seriously, the police in a first-world country like the United Kingdom are kowtowing to the antiquated superstitions of a tribal people held over from the early medieval era because their descendants cloak their astonishingly fragile sensibilities in the mantle of religion?

If the poster had shown a furtive-looking, unshaved man with olive-colored skin wearing a keffiyeh and concealing something in his jubbah with the caption "Report Suspicious Activity To The Crown Police!" I could understand Muslims getting upset over that. But this is a picture of an adorable German Shepherd puppy dog sitting next to a bobby's hat. The poster is in no way disrespectful of Muslims.

Oh, forget Muslims. The poster is in no way disrespectful of anyone or anything. Its only real fault is that it's so bland and inoffensive that it runs a serious risk of inducing local citizens to forget the number of the police department. The Muslims claiming to be "offended" by this poster must have had a very, very large chip balanced oh-so-precariously on their shoulders, which could have just as easily been knocked off into a festival of Righteous Islamic Rage™ by the sale of bacon at a butcher's shop.

You know, I don't see the rabbi from the local synagogue running picket lines outside the local Hallmark store because it sells greeting cards with pictures of cute little piglets and amusing captions like "Hope you make a pig of yourself on your birthday!" Nor does the Catholic League press releases condemning McDonald's for selling hamburgers on Fridays. The reason is that these Jews and Catholics somehow understand that no one is making them buy the pigs or the beef; it is up to them to observe the teaching of their own religions and let others decide what's right for them. It's not that difficult a concept.

When Muslims project their own religious and cultural sensibilities on others, it is every bit as offensive as when Christians do it. Particularly when it's something really silly like this -- calling down a fatwa on an adorable little puppy? What a bunch of political cowards the Tayside police must be to apologize for this poster. At some point, you've got to say, "No, it's not reasonable for you to be offended by that poster and we're not going to change it or apologize for it. The poster has a dog on it. Deal." That should have been the reaction. Instead, they act like submissive dhimmi living under the rule of the Sultan of Araby. Is the fear of causing offense so deeply ingrained in the British character that this is the natural and appropriate reaction? Because it only feeds the beast to appease it, and this is the sort of thing that leads down a slippery slope into an abyss of theocracy.

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