following on from a facebook discussion, i'm going to explain further why i really don't like this post from john pagani.
first a little context, if you don't want to click over. it's generally about the billboard by st matthew-in-the-city of the virgin mary holding a pregnancy test and looking, well, not overjoyed (mr edwards has an image if you want to see it). it's apparently what they do - put up something controversial to get people talking in a hells pizza kind of way, but not for economic gain and not quite in the same league of offensiveness.
at least not to me, but then i'm not christian so i accept that i might have a different perspective on it. some people did find it extremely offensive for their own reasons, which is fair enough. but they went a step too far and defaced the billboard, instead of using their right to freedom of expression to explain why they were unhappy about it via press release or to put up a billboard of another kind or to have a vocal protest outside the thing to which they could invite the media.
so what does any of this have to do with muslims? nothing, right? no muslim organisation or individual has publicly commented, nothing islamic is involved. it's two christian groups having a disagreement, which they are perfectly entitled to do. so you would think muslims could keep a low profile and stay well away from this one.
but no. mr richard boock decides, in his need to berate the catholic church (or at least the "fanatics among" them) for these acts, to bring muslims into the picture. it seems that the group doing the vandalising hasn't been condemned enough, and if they had been muslims they would have been condemned from all quarters. hence this group should be treated the same as muslim fanatics and be condemned from all quarters. or something. i think he's making that point more in relation to what they were saying (some apparently vitriolic stuff) than what they were doing (ie vandalising).
while it's a minor point in mr boock's piece, mr pagani picks up that little paragraph in his post and highlights it with the title. and i object. i object to the gratuitous use of muslims in this argument at all. it's not like we're starving for media attention. it's not like we need focus directed towards us on a matter that is completely and totally unrelated. it's not about us, so why do the authors need to make it about us?
and yes, i do get the point that they are, in their own way, trying to be nice about muslims by pointing out some unfair treatment. but really, this whole issue isn't about unfair treatment of muslims. it's about some people committing vandalism, then saying some things you disagree with. so stick to that topic - tell us why you disagree with what they did and what they said, but please don't use us muslims as a tool to drive your point home.
furthermore i really, sincerely don't think that muslims have been brought into these two pieces because the authors have a deep well of caring and concern about us. at least it doesn't come across that way. so i don't see that they should be getting some kind of brownie points for being all progressive and inclusive, when i don't think that's what they were trying to be. especially when mr pagani hasn't yet figured out (as was nicely pointed out on facebook) that people can't be islamic, they are muslim.
and yes, of course they are free to say what they want. but then i'm free to say i don't like it. that's how freedom of expression works. people have the right to take offence and to express why a certain thing offends them. (they don't have the right to go vandalising stuff, but that's a different issue.) it's up to others whether they want to take on board those issues or not.