Dead Moral Questions? If Only!
The anonymous troll of our recent past initially 'linked' to this post by Fredrik deBoer on "Dead Moral Questions":
One point that, I hope, runs through a lot of my work is the use and abuse of dead moral questions. In that, I mean the tendency for political types to bring a lot of rhetorical and mental weight to bear on questions that are not politically live, in any meaningful sense. This focus is always an attempt to hide something, always undertaken in service to some other agenda than actually defending the positions which do not require defending . . . . That's what's happening today in regards to the terrorist attacks in France. We are having a series of loud, impassioned, righteous conversations about questions like "Should people murder?" and "Should we have the right to publish cartoons?" We're debating, in other words, dead moral questions, and for the same reason we always do: because that debate allows us to ignore the ones that might lead us to a different place than the celebration of our own liberal righteousness. To read the people writing about this attack, this is the fundamental question at hand: were these killings OK? If that were actually a moral question worth asking, then it would provoke disagreement. And yet I see no disagreement. None at all.I suppose one question to pose in response to this part of deBoer's post is to ask who "we" refers to. If we restrict ourselves to Westerners, we'll generally get a response in favor of free speech, though with a significant number adding "but" Charlie Hebdo crossed a line because depicting Muhammad is forbidden by Islamic law, and we should respect Muslim sensitivities.
Such sensitivities in this case mean Islamic law. What is the punishment according to Islamic law? Death. Depicting Muhammad is blasphemy, and blasphemy merits a death sentence.
Opinions about open free speech and the rightness of killing blasphemers might have been dead moral questions in the West for some time, but these 'dead' questions are currently being resurrected as the percentage of Muslims in Western countries increases.
If "we" includes Muslims living in the West, then these two questions about free expression and death for blasphemers are hardly dead.
If only they were . . .