March 1, 2008

Can a Stone Speak?

The Walking Man by Rodin

Some sculptors will say, "Yes, it can. Through the artful hands of the sculptor. If Rodin could make his sculptured man move his muscles, why can't a stone be made to move its vocal chords?". Well, in this case the stone hasn't spoken for centuries, and it's a smooth tetrahedron with no wrinkle or undulation to reveal the possibility of muscles and nerves. What's wrong with calling it a "dumb stone"? Will it be pc to call it a "speech disadvantaged stone"? Why do the followers of a religion that routinely derides and denounces idol worshipers get all upset about it?

Der Spiegel reports from Berlin:

A Berlin gallery has closed an exhibition of satirical art by the controversial Danish group Surrend after receiving threats from a group of Muslims. The men were objecting to a picture of the Kaaba at Mecca under the title "Dumb Stone." ... The men reportedly threatened the staff with violence should they not comply.

This is the latest in a series of incidents in Europe, involving the clash of the idea of freedom of expression with the idea of blasphemy of Islam and its prophet. Theo van Gogh's murder for his filming of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's "Submission", the Berlin Deutche Opera's cancellation of the staging of Mozart's "Idemeneo", the loss of life and property around the world in the violence that followed the publication of Muhammad cartoons by the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, and most recently, the protests against the republication of the cartoons by several Danish newspapers. Expressing his solidarity with the Surrend, the president of Berlin's influential Academy of Arts, Klaus Staeck, who opened the exhibition last week, is quoted to have said,

"I extend my solidarity to all artists ... whose work is threatened by violent people who hold different beliefs"... adding that he hoped the exhibition could re-open soon.

The Surrend group has appealed to the Berlin authorities to provide 24-hour police protection, so the exhibition can reopen. The most fundamental duty of any democratically elected government is to guarantee the physical safety and security of its citizens. I hope the Berlin authorities will do everything in their capacity to fulfill this guarantee.

The worldwide attempts by Islamists to silence anyone who is critical of their religion and its icons have gone far enough. It is time that everyone who believes in the freedom of expression — in principle, that should include everyone of my fellow bloggers — should join Klaus Staeck in expressing solidarity with Surrend, and everyone else who has preceded and will certainly succeed these Danish artists. I do.

1 comment :
  1. I wasn't aware of this... Thanks.
    Of course, I hate such things happening in developed, supposedly free countries. Being politically correct is now a new disease of Europe, especially UK.

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