I'm breaking this post into global and local topics, starting locally.
Stephen Harper (our latest Prime Minister) has barely been sworn into office. What does he do first? He announces his new cabinet of Ministers. No big deal you think, this is normal stuff. But wait - David Emerson, who ran as a Liberal just two weeks ago and won with an overwhelming majority changes teams to be the Conservative Trade Minister. I honestly would not care about this so much if Harper had reacted differently to Belinda Stronach's defection just last year. If it was clearly not okay for Belinda to defect, why is it suddenly okay now for David?
Stephen Harper, your actions portray you as a political hypocrite. I won't even get into the whole issue of appointing someone who wasn't even elected to be Minister of Public Works and Government Services. We are off to a spectacularly bad start. So much for electing a more accountable government. I've already lost confidence in this minority government. Can we get a motion?
I'd continue this rant, but I also wanted to mention the first sane article I have seen that discusses the Danish anti-Muslim cartoons. I applaud the Times for taking the stand they did. Muslims the world over have been offended by these cartoons, and for what purpose? To highlight the difficulty experienced by Danish writer Kåre Bluitgen in finding artists to illustrate his children's book about Muhammad. So now an Iran newspaper has decided to hold a contest of their own to test this 'free speech' in Europe to find a dozen holocaust cartoons. Which I suppose, is better than burning down buildings or killing folks.
So in the spirit of today's news, I commissioned a political cartoon of my own, to express what I feel about our newly elected government's actions. While I got exactly what I described from the artist, I was surprised at how conflicted I felt on seeing it. My initial reaction was to laugh, because I did find it funny. But it is funny only because I feel it is true and that there is comedy in misery. At the same time I also find it somewhat offensive to my sense of national pride. Lucky for me I decided not to make fun of my religious beliefs today. I can only imagine how much worse that would have made me feel.
Which is my main point, I guess. I can see how upsetting these cartoons would be to Muslims. I get it - I would hate to be painted with the same brush used on terrorists motivated by my religion. What I do not get is the violence - I can't sympathise with Muslims who feel justified in physically harming others. The cartoon contest, well I don't know. If it's good for the Danes, it should be good for the Muslims - it's just disappointing that they would be willing to stoop to that level. And let me be clear: the Danish cartoons stooped to a new level of low. I have not put the images on my site because I do not approve in the slightest. They were mean spirited and I feel they were designed to incite hatred toward Muslims. And that's an opinion I'm not comfortable with, even though I myself am not a follower of Islam. Free Speech means the racists and assholes of the world have a voice and this can be a problem for some when they spout heresy or offer contrarian opinions. It also tests our resolve toward being tolerant toward those who oppose us. What it does not do is excuse us from the rules of civil conduct. Slander is still slander and offense is still taken from insults. We still have to play nice with our neighbors.
So without further preamble, here is my cartoon: