Google, owners of the video broadcast website YouTube, refused to remove “Innocence of Muslims”, the video that has outraged Muslims all over the world and led to violent protests in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The American ambassador and three other diplomats in Libya, were killed when protestors attacked the US consulate in Benghazi.
Google, however, agreed to temporarily block access to the video from selected Muslim countries.
“Innocence of Muslims”, according to its critics, mocks Islam and blasphemes the Prophet Mohammad.
Videos of “Innocence of Muslims” have also been posted on the social media site Facebook. Indeed in Egypt, a Coptic Christian who posted the film on his Facebook page is currently under 15 days detention on charges of insulting religion.
The storm over “Innocence of Muslims” is already passing. What interests me though is something different. While, for example, Facebook allows videos of “Innocence of Muslims” to be posted on its site (and it should in the spirit of freedom of expression), it does not allow photos of breastfeeding mothers.
Last year, it created quite a bit of clamour when it deleted the page for the provocatively named The Leaky B@@b, a popular breast-feeding group.
I think the right to breastfeed, and to express it in photography is equal to, if not greater than, the freedoms to profess a religion, to be atheist, and to blaspheme Jesus or the Prophet Mohammad.
Facebook censors breastfeeding photographs and video, within the overall policy against pornography. I am confounded that anyone can confuse a breast held out to feed a child, with one displayed to titillate.
My sense is that there is a deeper struggle going on. Media (social media, newspapers, TV, and news sites) are uncomfortable with breastfeeding photos for the same reason they are queasy about photographs taken in maternity wards, and why they find photographs of farmers working the fields boring: They remind us of
how basic our start in life is, a stage where we are very helpless; and that we are able to be alive, at the end of the day, because we do something very simple – eat.
Yet the only way we are able to come to terms with ourselves, is as complex creatures. The internet and social media succeed because they do something that sophisticated, clever and highly rational people think defines them – they ritualise impersonality.
One of many parts of being a rational 21st Century citizen is to carry on the work started by our forefathers during the Enlightenment, like continuing to question religious dogma.
In this scheme of things, the spat over a religious film like “Innocence of Muslims” is a much-needed test, which helps separate those of us who have reached a “higher stage” of intellectual and scientific development and are unperturbed by such things, and those who are still on the lower rung of the evolutionary ladder, and kill over it.
Indeed, as some Muslims still fumed over the “Innocence of Muslims”, along came Harvard University Professor Karen King.
Professor King had studied an ancient papyrus that recorded Jesus Christ speaking to his disciples about “my wife”, which suggests that the son of God was married – to Mary Magdalene no less.
The Daily Mail called this finding “explosive”, and quoted Professor King telling the Smithsonian Magazine that the fragment casts doubt “on the whole Catholic claim of a celibate priesthood based on Jesus’s celibacy” (Read more on: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2205235/Jesus-married-Proof-God-spoke-wife-Mary-Magdalene-ancient-papyrus.html#ixzz270x6lxLr ).
You see Professor King’s statements are based on scientific study of an object, an incomplete manuscript. And her findings were presented this week at a very “civilised” scientific conference on Coptic studies in Rome. There were no demonstrations by Christians, and Professor King will not return home to find that Catholic zealots had torched her house.
The contrast between that, and the riots in the Muslim countries over “Innocence of Muslims” could not have been starker. But, then, that is the point, isn’t it?
Bring in a breastfeeding mother into this picture, and you ruin this narrative. Because you will be saying, “Guys, forget all this highfaluting stuff. You all started in the same place; blind, groping for your mothers’ breasts, and left on your own, would fall off your mothers’ laps”.
DISCLOSURE: The author is mostly rational, and a messy cross between occasional-praying Catholic, agnostic, and atheist.
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