Monday, September 25, 2006

Car Bomb

I'll make this quick.

There's a used car dealer in Cincinnati who's incurred the wrath of the local Muslim community -- a debatably ill-advised idea given recent events -- by planning to run an ad campaign based entirely on the theme of "declaring Jihad on high auto prices."

Understand: everything about this is funny.

A used car salesman. Jihad* on high prices. Pissing off Muslims. Hell, even Cincinnati is a poor man's Cleveland when it comes to punchlines.

I've always believed that when you're talking about humor -- lighthearted mockery especially -- nothing is off limits.


The moment you begin allowing a person or group to dictate what's fair game and what isn't, you find yourself having to censor everyone. As a culture, we make fun of that which frightens and oppresses us; it's simply a coping mechanism. I'm pretty sure that I can say without fear of contradiction that nothing frightens or oppresses us like religion. The specter of defying the will of a supreme being is difficult for those who believe in its existence; for the rest of us, it's just a fucking hilariously inviolable target, and one rife with priceless terms and imagery.

The Muslim community is of course howling about the need for its religion to be respected; it's the argument typically made by anyone who feels that his or her faith has been offended. But I'm going to take an unpopular stand here and say that that's horseshit. Demanding that those outside of your funny little cult adhere to the rigid demands placed on those inside it -- namely that its beliefs and rituals be held as sacrosanct -- is fucking absurd, and these days dangerous. Even if you don't believe in a supreme being and fear offending him, all Americans have been taught to fear the supreme being and prophet worshipped in Islam; we've been assured that we'll pay for our apostasy with our lives. Talk about fright and oppression.

I would actually make an alternate and in some ways opposite argument: if a group of people came to you and said that they believed in a spaceship behind a comet, and that they worshipped the entity that controlled it and would die to be taken into its arms, would you respect that belief -- or would you think that it was at least worthy of pity and at most deserving of merciless ridicule? The fact is, you probably already have ridiculed it; it was the Heaven's Gate cult that believed that crap, which is undeniably no more insane than believing in the fantastical contents of the Bible or the Koran.

Just because millions choose to believe a fairy-tale in no way makes that fairy-tale true.

As for the ad campaign, which among other things urged buyers to come in for "Fatwa Fridays:" humor doesn't have to be tasteful to be good, regardless of which worshipper of which sacred cow finds it distasteful.

In the words of a popular 70s t-shirt: Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

(*One of the inherently funniest words in any language)


buddha said...

let me start off with saying i'll see you in hell deus... ha ha ha...i think that joker car salesman guy is friggin' fabutastic!! i just might ride my pimped out flying carpet down there to cinncinati and pick up a new "rico suave" ladies mobile while chewing on a bagel with cream cheese, drinking cherry kool-aid (or was it grape?), reading a little fiction from tom's favorite novelist while rubbing my ample belly for luck and bobbin' my head to the bumps on the road with that mary lady with the hoodie...

Mr. Sensitive said...

Ya wanna know what's even fact, what makes the "joke" really on the so-called incensed muslim jihadists?

"Jihad," in arabic, does not mean Holy War.

It's got nothing at all to do with war. Jihad, literally translated, means "effort," and the original idea of using this expression was intended simply to encourage muslims to work hard at spreading the message of Mohammed. That's all. This could mean anything, as long as the obedient muslim strives "with every effort," to promote the religion. It's about the equivalent of the Christian notion of sending missionaries to Africa, Mormons making commercials about Jesus dancing with the pre-Colombian tribes of America, or Buddhists seeking out Eddie Murphy to do battle with Sardo Numspa so the world will be safe for another generation.

Watch the History Channel a little, people.

alicia said...

Wait, shouldn't there be two angry groups? One pissed because the guy's ganking their "holy war" idea, and the other because Islam is a peaceful religion?

Robo said...

I think South Park said it best with...

"Either it's all okay, or none of it is...Do the right thing!"

I just watched an interview with Jake Tapper (ABC News) and Matt & Trey in which they state that it's okay for them to make fun of Jesus but it's not for Mohammad...(?)

It's just so utterly ridiculous how sensitive people are. Great you don't think Mohammad should be depicted in an artform. Why should I give a flying fuck? And why should you have the final say anyway?

People are different and those differences are ususally hysterical...what's the issue?

Johnny Truant said...

Oh, geez. Mr. Sensitive, don't be so anti-semantic. Okay, so "jihad" doesn't translate literally to "holy war". I'm pretty sure Osama's "effort" includes a whole lotta killin'. Love the "Holy Child" reference, though. Anyway, is there a funnier term than "batshit crazy". I don't think so.

Mr. Sensitive said...

The misuse of the term jihad by bin Ladin and/or anyone else, to justify murder, is what completely invalidates the outrage expressed by the muslim community. WE can't be expected to understand the nuances of their language and religion (in fact I believe it's historically forbidden to translate the Qu'ran into any language other than arabic, even though it was), but for heaven's sake, THEY ought to know, and THEY ought to be the vanguard of reform from within, if we are ever going to be expected to react with anything other than suspicion and mistrust.

And by the way, the reverse holds true. WE need to strive as Americans/Westerners etc. -- with every effort -- to demonstrate that we do not share solidarity with a government that invades sovereign nations, that props up despots who have oil reserves they can plunder, that walks away from international treaties designed to reverse the rape of the planet, that builds secret torture dungeons, etc....

Democracy has been hijacked, as brutally and efficiently as Islam was, and maybe if we could just round up the perpetrators of both crimes, and dump them into a big pit and lock the lid, the world would be a decent place to live.

...oh and it's Golden Child, btw. :)

Eric Blade said...

I've read this as happening in Cleveland, Cincinatti and Columbus, as well as the first few articles I read did not identify a dealership, or any names of anyone involved.. all that pretty much points to this being some internet rumor.

Chez said...

Nothing would surprise me these days, but it's worth mentioning that if it actually is a rumor -- pretty much every newspaper and network is running with it.

There have been stories and live guests all over the place talking about it.

Robo said...

"There have been stories and live guests all over the place talking about it."

[Chuck Roberts seen interviewing John Mark Karr about it]

Gotta love the Mass Media....Sorry Chez!

Mr. Sensitive said...

I happen to know it's true, because that dealership is where Lonelygirl15 told me her daddy bought her car for her Sweet 16.