Social Question

josie's avatar

Would you murder somebody because you did not like a movie, much less one they did not make?

Asked by josie (30926points) September 12th, 2012

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/j-christopher-stevens-ambassador-to-libya-killed_n_1876544.html?1347448219&icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D204233
The American ambassador to Libya was killed by a mob who is angry about a movie’s depiction of The Prophet. Would you commit murder over a movie? Do you think such folks would make good neighbors?

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12 Answers

Qingu's avatar

Some Islamic fundamentalists are murderous savages. News at 11.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If I murder or harm someone over an idea it would make me a pretty low form of life, probably even lower than the idiot that made the movie.

Qingu's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe, I don’t think there’s any “probably” about it. The vicious murderers are definitely worse than the guy who mocked a 7th-century cultist. And, not having seen the movie, I can’t comment on whether or not the person who made it is an idiot.

I do think there is plenty to criticize about Mohammad, a warmongering cult leader who had sex with a 9 year old girl, and I think it’s tragic that publicly pointing this out often results in an angry fundamentalist mob killing people halfway around the world. Nobody should be silenced from criticizing or mocking Muhammad because of these actions.

At the same time, “crazy Islamic fundamentalist mob retaliation” is, at this point in history, a known quantity. And I have to say I’m opposed to this kind of cavalier attitude that some free-speech advocates have about it. In one sense, making movies like that strikes me as poking wild animals with a stick. At a certain point there is the pragmatic question of “is it worth it to deliberately provoke Muslims with a mocking portrayal of Muhammad if it means someone is probably going to die because of it?” And I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that question.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’ve seen a clip that purported to be at least part of the movie (if not the whole thing) and which was nearly un-watchable for its pathetic amateurism. If I had been forced to watch the full 13 minutes, I might have started a riot myself.

Here is what I saw, which was presented as “the reason”. I couldn’t watch more than a few minutes. See if you can do better.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Outside of the individual motives/views (after all people are amazingly skilled at convincing themselves justified in seemingly action they desire), I’m not sure I’ve ever found a case where “you’ve offended {x}” was a good reason to kill someone.

I saw the first several minutes of the trailer. Ugh! I couldn’t care less (beyond gawking at the train wreck) about their message or whose offended by it or why but have some respect for filmmaking. There’s a scene where a mob is coming to… well, I think sack a doctors office, it reminded me of a Flying Circus skit, without the satire or budget. We’re talking production and acting that made Manos Hands of Fate look like Shawshank Redemption, Torgo is not pleased.

Clearly this whole mess just underscores once again just how seriously the issues must be taken, but I’m not sure the next fodder for a MST3K masterpiece (or getting together a mob and killing people over it) is the way to address them. Of course that assumes the power on either side really wants to address them in any cooperative way.

Qingu's avatar

I wonder how much the movie actually mattered to begin with.

The elephant in the room is that this took place on 9/11.

We know there are elements of al-Qaeda and its sympathizers active in both Libya and Egypt. They probably used this obscure film as a pretext to rile up a mob. But it would shock me if the individuals who actually fired the RPGs at the convoy were not affiliated with al-Qaeda.

DominicX's avatar

Part of me agrees with @Qingu in that people need to be practical and curb their freedom of speech when it could result in preventing violence and death, but at the same time, I don’t think it would matter if this movie had been made or not. Fundamentalists who do things like this would have found something else to be offended by and kill over. This is their job, essentially, to seek out Western-made anti-Muslim material and use it as a pretext for rioting. Just the existence of the West is enough in some cases…

wonderingwhy's avatar

@Qingu Skimming several articles last night and this morning, that was largely my impression as well. The film may have simply made for a convenient and easily distributable pretext for gathering large numbers of protesters in order to create a situation whereby planned violence could be more easily executed and further internal polarization could be forced.

”…the attack as a well-planned assault that occurred in two waves and was organized by a group of about 20 militants. The first wave involved driving the Americans from the consulate, and the second was a coordinated attack using a rocket-propelled grenade after they were taken to another location.” -Washington Post

Qingu's avatar

@DominicX, I agree and disagree. Al-Qaeda and people like them will always want to kill Americans, it’s true. But incendiary movies and cartoons can function like dumping fuel on a fire.

It almost becomes just a simple question of strategy. You think Islam is a horrible religion (I agree!), you want to foster a secular enlightenment in the Islamic world or at least mitigate the Salafists’ influence in world affairs (yes) ... so what is the best way to go about doing this? Who knows, but I think it’s pretty clear that making juvenile and incendiary works that mock Muhammad is probably not a constructive strategy. And if that’s the case then making such works almost strikes me as masturbatory. On the other hand, I guess you could argue that such works draw attention to Islam’s flaws and thus are constructive in some way, but then this has to be balanced with the fact that lives are at stake.

CWOTUS's avatar

Actually, it’s not even about “mocking” Muhammed. Just the pictorial representation of him or trying to play him in any work of art, no matter how well executed or with what noble intentions, could have been enough to set this off.

While I generally agree with @Qingu that it’s not wise to poke at wild animals, this “religious sensibility” (like Christianity before it) has to be desensitized in some way. Mockery and laughter have always been the best corrosive agents to use against this kind of hyper-sensitivity. Bring it.

tedd's avatar

I’m interested to see how this plays out in the end. Does no one else find it a bit odd that two attacks on US embassies occur in currently unstable middle-eastern countries on the anniversary of 9–11?

I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up having been a terrorist attack using outrage of the video as a smoke screen, or using the video to rile up a mob and then using it as cover.

Qingu's avatar

@tedd, that looks to be the case, actually, for the attack in Benghazi (in which people were actually killed). NYTimes article.

“Intelligence reports are inconclusive at this point, officials said, but indications suggest the possibility that an organized group had either been waiting for an opportunity to exploit like the protests over the video or perhaps even generated the protests as a cover for their attack.”

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