February 9th, 2006

BMC - cloisters

Kerfuffle

Once again, Jon Carroll talks sense, this time about the Danish cartoon controversy.

I do not doubt that people were genuinely affected by the cartoons. Those of us with weaker ties to our supernatural belief systems have trouble empathizing with the anger felt by true believers over violations of their laws and customs. Add to that the "here's the West again, invading our countries, stealing our oil and mocking our religion" dynamic, and the whole thing becomes less puzzling. In the modern multicultural world, most people see something offensive to their beliefs pretty much every day. But these folks are not living in the modern multicultural world, and, given what they've seen of it, can you blame them?

On the other hand, crowds do not appear spontaneously in front of the Danish Embassy. (Quick: Where is the Danish Consulate in San Francisco?) Someone directs them there, someone instructs them that this is a useful way to defend their religion. It's a form of public piety, and I really distrust public piety in all its forms.

Me too, Jon. Me too.

I am not really sure what to think of all this. My first reaction had been to wonder why the eruption -- how was this different from editorial cartoons depicting Jesus, or other religious figures. Then I remembered Islam's prohibition of human depictions, and it made a little more sense. Even given that, I'm somewhat torn. Should American newspapers print them? I really don't know. I am pretty much a free speech absolutist. On the other hand, with that right comes the responsibility to accept that people might not like what you have to say, that they might react to you (speak back, protest, burn down your embassy, etc.). And is it worth inciting more bad feelings within a group that is (rightly, at least in part) pretty upset with us right now anyway? No answers, just questions. I seem to say that a lot when I think about world events these days.
cats - tori sun

non-silly meme

If there is someone on your friends list who makes your world a better place just because they exist and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the internet, then post this same sentence in your journal.
cats - snow leopard

End of an era

Yes, I am spamming you all today. Heh heh heh.

So one of the things about working at a vocational school is that the course of study is fairly short. We don't have "semesters" or "quarters" in the traditional sense -- a course lasts six weeks, new students come on at the beginning of every course, and most programs last around 10 months to a year. So many of the students who started around the same time I started working here are finishing up today, and I'm a little sad. Some of these students were regulars, people who came into the library almost every day, and it's going to be weird, not having them around.

Students I've gotten attached to have finished up before, but never quite so many all at once. And it occurs to me that it's going to be like this from here on out, now, because all the students will have started since I came here. I'll have known them from beginning to end. I guess everyone who works through a school goes through this, but not on such a compressed time frame. Takes some getting used to.

It's great to see them succeed. Really, I'm happy and excited for all of them. But I'm going to miss them, too.