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Absolutely gutless: Self-censorship in Berlin
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Self-censorship is capitulation to tyranny:
Four canceled performances of a Mozart opera have reignited an anxious and heated debate in Europe over free speech, self-censorship and Islam.

By canning its production of "Idomeneo," fearful of security threats because of a scene that might offend Muslims, Berlin's Deutsche Oper provoked front-page headlines across the continent and found itself fending off charges of cowardice.
And well they should be fending off such charges. Not a single threat has been made and not a single protest has been mounted:
"Here we go again. It's like deja vu...This is exactly the kind of self-censorship I and my newspaper have been warning against," said Flemming Rose, culture editor of Denmark's Jyllands-Posten paper, which met a storm of Muslim protest after publishing satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad last year.

He said bowing to fears of a violent Muslim reaction would only worsen the problem: "You play into the hands of the radicals. You are telling them: your tactics are working. This is a victory for the radicals. It's weakening the moderate Muslims who are our allies in this battle of ideas."
The controversy involves a scene in the opera in which 4 severed heads, those of Buddha, Poseiden, Jesus and Mohammad, are displayed on stage. Because of that the Deutsche Opera was told by Berlin Security that the opera would 'pose an "incalculable security risk."'

Of course this has been going on for a long time and not exclusively because of Muslims:
In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered after outraging Muslims with a film accusing Islam of promoting violence against women, and a British play featuring sexual abuse and murder in a Sikh temple was canceled after protests.

Last year London's Tate Britain museum removed a sculpture by John Latham which it feared would offend Muslims and a British tour of "Jerry Springer - The Opera" was temporarily canceled when conservative Christian groups complained.

Such tensions are not new, although artists argue they have become more common since September 11, 2001. In 1989 British author Salman Rushdie was forced into hiding after Iran issued a fatwa calling for his death after he wrote "The Satanic Verses."
But it goes completely against the purpose of art when you cave in an decide, without threat or protest, to self-censor. That is an act of abject fear.

Best line to sum it up:
"You can't be afraid of constantly watching your back in the arts," PEN's [Lisa] Appignanesi said. "One is in the business of provoking response. Otherwise there is no art."
And there is no art in Berlin today.
 
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In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered after outraging Muslims with a film accusing Islam of promoting violence against women, and a British play featuring sexual abuse and murder in a Sikh temple was canceled after protests.

Last year London’s Tate Britain museum removed a sculpture by John Latham which it feared would offend Muslims and a British tour of "Jerry Springer - The Opera" was temporarily canceled when conservative Christian groups complained.
Yes, because Christian "complaints" and Sikh protests- something both groups are allowed to do- deserve to be lumped in with a fricking murder...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
But the point is, no one should have caved.

Don’t like it. Don’t patronize it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Here I’m with you.

No one should have caved. (At least we agree on something).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~blog.htm
Most people and newspapers in Germany criticize the cancellation of this Mozart opera, incl. representatives of Muslim organizations.

Now it seems that the cancellation will be revoked and this opera will be shown after all.

What a great and shrewd publicity stunt the opera house made by first announcing the cancellation. Without this fuss about cancellation, nobody would care to see this silly artsy-fartsy opera. Now it is a must-see to show that we do not surrender to "Islamofascism."

I think I am in a very small minority who approved of the cancellation. That opera is an insult to other religions (since it also shows the severed heads of Jesus and Buddha) as well and to Mozart, the composer, himself.

Anyway, what benefit would we get if we had this opera? It seems the only reason to defend this stupid opera is to avoid giving the impression of appeasement to the Islamofascists. That’s not enough for me.
My analogy: People can call me coward all day, but I don’t get intimidated. I am not doing something I don’t want to do just to prove to someone that I am not a coward. Well, I did that in kindergarten and elementary school, but now I am more confident and don’t feel I have to prove anything to anyone. Jesus, what a hero I am. :-)

Is this opera helping us? No, I think this opera would only strengthen Islamofasicsm since it would help their propaganda. To win the war on terrorism, we need to have moderate Muslims on our side, so that they don’t support the terrorists, but give us information about them. And we want the moderate Muslims to win over their autocratic governments and fundamentalist groups in the Arab world. This opera, however, alienates the moderate Muslims and helps the fundamentalists.

I think we should criticize the Arab world all day on how they treat women, violate human rights, lack democracy, have too much corruption, etc etc. And we should lecture them all day that they should make peace with Israel, that they should spend their money education rather than military, that they should save Darfur, that they need economic reforms etc etc. Since nobody likes to be attacked, criticized and lectured on every issue, we should avoid making fun of their Prophet of defaming their Prophet. Rather we should focus on the topics that matter. That’s not appeasement, but about focusing on what is important and it is about setting priorities.

Though, as I said: I am in the minority on this one. Most Germans criticized the cancellation of the opera. It was the opera house who decided to cancel the show. Not the federal or the city government. If (!) the government had told the opera show to cancel the show, then I would be critical and complain about strangeling free speech and about unacceptable government intervention into the arts. But that was not the case.



Let’s not forget that Muslims are not the only religious group who dislikes controversial art:

This is from Oct 23, 1998: "Last May, William Donohue, the ever-vigilant president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, raised quite a ruckus about the fact that Corpus Christi, Terrence McNally’s play-in-progress, featured a gay, Christ-like protagonist who has sex, off-stage, with his male disciples. Donohue, who has a gift for strained analogies that rivals McNally’s own, has called the play "hate speech," "bigotry," and of course "blasphemy." He has argued that a similar depiction of a black or Jewish religious figure would be roundly condemned. Only Catholics and their beliefs, Donohue insists, are held up to such ridicule."
Long article here:
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1252/is_n18_v125/ai_21273530

Yeah, yeah, this only happens to Catholics.... Right! And some Jews say those kind of attacks only happen to Jews. And some Muslims say those things only happen to Muslims

The play was then shown after all. And probably the Idomeneo opera will be shown as well soon. They certainly got a lot of publicity. More than this opera house would usually get. Usually hardly anybody would be interested in that opera, but now it is the talk of the town.

"On May 23, 1998, the New York Times announced that the Manhattan Theatre Club would be canceling its scheduled production of playwright Terrence McNally’s newest play, Corpus Christi, due to bomb and death threats made against the theatre, its personnel, and the playwright. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights disavowed responsibility for the threats but did publicly applaud the decision, calling the play "blasphemous." A week later, after counter-demonstrations by a roster of well-known contemporary playwrights, the play was reinstated at MTC. Although the Catholic League’s president had not read the play, reports claiming that it depicted a gay Jesus-like figure who has sex with his apostles was enough to ignite a series of events that captured the attention of New Yorkers, theatre artists and others, perhaps to a greater extent than McNally’s play itself. On opening night, two separate demonstrations took place concurrently on opposite ends of the block outside the theater."
http://muse.jhu.edu/cgi-bin/access.cgi?uri=/journals/theatre_journal/v051/51.2pr_mcnally.html

The same play was shown in Germany, but then cancelled after death threats and bomb threats.
 
Written By: Josh in Berlin
URL: http://atlanticreview.org
Glad to read that perhaps the show will go on. I was heartened by the original outbursts of outrage over the appeasing of muslims, because of the original cancellation of the opera. A lot of people in high posts spoke out.

I hardly think it should matter to anyone in a free country whether or not some play offends this or that religion, and if the heads of all the religions are equally chopped off, where is there a valid complaint?

Rastaman
www.islamanazi.com
 
Written By: Rastaman
URL: http://www.islamanazi.com
Hans Neuenfels, the producer of the opera, had added the controversial scene to Mozart’s Idomeneo. Not only did I think they should not cancelled the opera, what bothered me was Neuenfels protest. What concerned Neuenfels mostly, was the right of the opera to be performed as his artistic vision.
 
Written By: VRB
URL: http://

 
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