I see where Egyptian courts, under the influence of conservative Islamic law, are jailing a popular comedic actor for portraying roles deemed an insult to Islam. Artists in the country and film producers are aghast. And journalists and writers and cartoonists and anyone else who believes in the freedom to cast ideas into the big landscape, for the meaning or feeling they convey, are stunned.
On a very different, trivial, almost funny level, I'm hounded on Get Real Post by guys who follow me around like stalkers warning others to watch out for my lies and phoniness. They use the simplistic one-line pot shots to demean me, I suppose because they view me as some kind of threat. Sometimes the pot-shots are elaborate parsing of every sentence, and twisting them into meanings never intended.
These are the morality police. The people appointed by themselves to ride herd on the rest of us to make sure we are expressing proper ideas properly.
The penalty for failure is, in the upper extreme, jail time. For the lower extreme it is a personal insult.
Oddly, although the morality police believe they are keeping other people upright, they are actually demeaning themselves and us as a gracious, thinking people.
Name-calling represents the complete bankruptcy of intelligence. Nor is it nice. It is like arguing on the back of a bullet. It is slapping a simplistic label on a complex being, as if that being's views had no value, no significance. It is the ultimate in disparaging behavior and personal slander.
It is too easy. Too fundamentally missing the point.
As if painting a house green could somehow hide the termites in the wood. As if sizzle determined the tenderness of a steak. As if platitudes can properly represent complex issues.
The morality police are good at that. Reducing people to simple ideas. An actor plays a role; he did not write it, produce it, or market the movie. The actor is supposed to be the morality policeman of the entire film industry?
Give me a break.
I suppose I am a morality policeman, too, when I offer up opinions on things. That's why I try to remember to attach a way to solve the problem to any criticism. Whacking at someone with a stick is wholly useless unless an alternative behavior is clear and possible.
Is rote education bad? I think so. It does not build aspiration or creativity or problem solving. So in making that judgment, I am trying to police those who teach by the book. But I don't want to jail them. I want to change the curriculum.
If I were a conservative Muslim, I wouldn't want to jail an actor. I would want to pressure filmmakers to stick with story lines more compatible with my faith. Do a rating system on Muslim values and attach a rating to each film based on faith-true content.
Getting cigarettes out of the mouths of our film heroes because it sends the wrong message to kids is a good thing. But don't jail Sean Penn if he sucks on a cigarette for artistic impact.
And don't slap easy words on people who deserve to be respected for the intricacies of the paths they have taken to get where they are. No matter how wrong they are.
A talented actor. A funny man, credentialed and representing Egyptian artists well in the global arena of professional acting. Jailed for seven months for ACTING. Not playing himself. ACTING. Jailed for playing a part well.
The only true morons around here are those calling other people morons. And those pretending to own the only values that count.