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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Volokh Conspiracy: Gary Trudeau of Doonesbury's Brain Fart


...Islam has an estimated 1.6 billion adherents, and is the most powerful religion in many important countries. Being powerful, it has been doing plenty of its own “punching downward” lately, and not just by means of satire. It has plenty of “the self-satisfied and hypocritical” within it. Much within Islam — like much within many religions — merits some “afflicting” through criticism and even ridicule.

Yet somehow this, in Trudeau’s eyes, is illegitimate. Look closely at the rhetorical trick in his argument. First, take a general rule of good manners (don’t make fun of the genuinely afflicted, especially when they are afflicted through no fault of their own). Then broaden it to any supposedly “powerless, disenfranchised minority,” including ones that are defined by a belief system — which, like other belief systems, may well deserve criticism (regardless of how powerful its adherents might be, and especially because even “powerless” belief systems often exercise a lot of potentially harmful power over some, such as their women and children). And then deploy this to deligitimize criticism of one of the most important and powerful belief systems on the planet, because in Hebdo’s home country that belief system attracts a mere 7.5% or so of the population.

What’s more, according to Trudeau himself, this part of the population is far from innocuous. After all, he says that “many Muslims throughout France” are now “mak[ing] common cause with [presumably Islam’s] most violent outliers.” Sounds like those outliers, in Trudeau’s view, really aren’t such outliers within French Islam after all, if a few cartoons can turn “many Muslims” into the supposed outliers’ allies...
Gary Trudeau's recent sanctimony reminded me why I haven't looked at a Doonesbury comic on purpose in over 25 years.

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