Friday, 29 January 2016

Release the doodles and boobies!

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is in Europe and it's not without some controversy. 

In Italy, along with talk that wine wouldn't be served at an official dinner - something the French refused to go along with - certain statues were covered to avoid offending the visiting president. The question is...why? 

According to several publications, Italian politicians have called this cover up an act of 'cultural submission'. This criticism is attributed to 'some Italian politicians' though I can't find a direct quote. 

What I find strange is that both the Italian and Iranian governments have said they didn't request the cover up. 

So, why do it? 

Well, because someone somewhere thought it was a good idea to pander to religious sensibilities. 

It wasn't. 

Covering up works of art because someone is religious is without merit. It's achieves nothing good, and makes us as a species, worse off. 

I had a friend say that if the Italians are willing to do it, and the Iranians are willing to have it happen, why is it a bad thing? 

Forgetting that it happened without any official request, it's a bad thing because it reinforces the idea that pandering to religious sensibilities is okay. It's a bad thing because it puts art in a category that suggests it's shameful and that it should be covered up. It suggests that it's okay that someone's superstitious nonsense is a priority over common sense. 

We're living in 2016. This isn't pre-renaissance. This isn't the dark ages. How did we ever get to the point were it was thought that some statues should be covered up lest they offend someone? The whole idea is absurd. 

The problem here is, once again, religion. Specifically Islam. You may ask how, given they didn't request for this to be done, and that's a fair question. 

Islam (or followers of) has become well known for being less than tolerant of ideas it doesn't agree with. Just ask Kurt Westergaard, Salman Rushdie, or the staff at Charlie Hebdo, to name a but a few. 

I'm aware that the threats and violence these people have faced aren't to do with uncovered statues, but they *are* because of the religious sensibilities of Muslims. 

Now we live in a world where people don't want to do anything that might upset Muslims. This has come about not because Muslims have made a reasonable case for why certain things shouldn't be done, but because of violent and deadly reactions to things such as cartoons. If you want to convince someone of something, you should do it with reasoned argument and discussion, not fear of death. 

Because of this we find ourselves in a situation where works of art are being covered up despite no one officially asking for it to happen. We're so keen to avoid upsetting followers of the supposed religion of peace, that we're falling over ourselves to protect them from things they didn't even ask to be protected from (and nor should they!)

It's ridiculous. 

So let's not. Let's not think it's okay to pander to this nonsense. Let's not reinforce the idea that religious people get to decide what other people can draw, or sculpt, or paint. Let's not be okay with the absurd idea that someone's religious beliefs should be considered special anywhere other than inside their own heads. 

Let's not cover them up, let's release the doodles and boobies! 

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