Do they really only want equal treatment?
GLAAD is the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation. The OIC is the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, a 56-state organization which constitutes the largest voting bloc in the UN. At first glance, the two groups would not seem to have much in common—particularly when one considers the general antipathy toward homosexuals in the Muslim world.
Upon further consideration, however, there are some interesting similarities between the two groups. For example, both are in the anti-defamation business. So as not to exclude bisexuals and transgenders, GLAAD no longer uses the full title, but its mission—to protect the gay community from derogatory criticism—remains unchanged. Likewise, the mission of the OIC is to protect Islam from criticism. Its main focus over the last ten years has been a campaign to create universal anti-blasphemy laws which, if passed, would make the defamation of a prophet a criminal offense not only in Riyadh and Islamabad, but also in London and New York.
GLAAD failed in its recent attempt to have Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson consigned to the outer darkness. And although the OIC has managed to pass several anti-defamation resolutions in the UN, it has not yet succeeded in making blasphemy a hate crime in the West. Nevertheless, both groups feel that time is on their side and both have exerted a powerful influence on what is considered acceptable discourse.
How influential? Well, suppose someone told you a joke beginning with the words, “A priest, a rabbi, a minister, an imam, and a lesbian walked into a bar…” If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably thinking, “Whoa! Stop right there!” We’re all used to jokes about priests, rabbis, and ministers, but the addition of the Muslim and lesbian characters introduces an element of caution. We immediately realize that someone might take offense. Moreover, we understand that there could be negative consequences for laughing at such a joke.
We would be right to worry. For example, in British Columbia a stand-up comedian at a comedy club was fined $15,000 by the courts for making a joke at the expense of two drunken lesbian patrons who were heckling him. The owner of the club was made to pay a fine of $7,500. The consequences of making a joke about Islam are even more intimidating. Monty Python star Michael Palin recently admitted that he won’t parody Islam because “there are people out there without a sense of humor and they are heavily armed.” Molly Norris, a Seattle cartoonist, was a bit slower in grasping the new situation. When she tried to initiate an “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” contest a few years ago she was hit with a death fatwa issued from Yemen by the late Anwar al-Awlaki. On the advice of the FBI, Norris quit her newspaper job, changed her name, and went into hiding. Norris might have avoided her fate if only she had read what the Ayatollah Khomeini had to say about humor. To wit: “An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.”
Jokes are still allowed in PC America, but only if they conform to stringent—if unwritten—guidelines. In their own way, the public opinion enforcers in America are every bit as prudish as the virtue police in Saudi Arabia, and every bit as vigilant. One of the prime examples of the neo-Victorian censors is CNN’s Piers Morgan, a moral exhibitionist who loves to cloak himself in the trappings of “enlightened” virtue, and whose favorite put-down for those who disagree with him is “How dare you!”
“How dare you!” is not exactly an invitation to rational discussion. It means, rather, that certain ideas and opinions are not fit for public discussion and will not be tolerated. The response of GLAAD to Phil Robertson was essentially of this nature. They didn’t use the occasion of his remarks to open up the discussion on same-sex marriage, but to try and shut it down. Instead of asking for equal time in GQ magazine, they asked for Robertson’s head. They wanted to put Robertson’s opinions beyond the pale and their own opinions beyond discussion. In effect, they were saying “How dare you!”
Another similarity between activist pressure groups like GLAAD and activist Muslim groups like the OIC is that both are highly intolerant of diversity—diversity of opinions, that is. Before looking at the ways dissent is handled in Muslim countries, however, it’s important to realize that Robertson was not the only target of gay activist ire. The larger target is the belief system that informs his opinions. Gay pressure groups and their allies in the media and the courts do not simply object to one man’s views on homosexuality, they object to orthodox Christian teaching about homosexual behavior. And they plan to make those teachings every bit as unacceptable as an off-color joke told about lesbians in a Vancouver bar. If you doubt this, consider the case of Reverend Stephen Boissoin, a youth pastor in Alberta who in 2002 wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper that was critical of the “gay agenda.” He was sentenced by the Alberta Human Rights Commission to a lifetime speech ban prohibiting him from ever saying anything disparaging about gays again, whether in public or in private, in print or in a sermon. He was also required to write a false letter of apology renouncing his religious views on homosexuality.