Saturday, February 18, 2006

Council Winners

This week's Watchers' Council winners are up. Not surprisingly, the blasphemous toons were the topic of choice.

Within the council, first place went to A Dialogue, at Gates of Vienna, which builds around a comments thread from a post that printed the odious Hitler-in-bed-with-Anne-Frank cartoon that a European Arab group published in an attempt to strike back after the Danish Muhammad cartoons became an issue. The post not only enlightens the issue, it restores my faith in comments threads and shows what they can be if the hijackers can be kept from boarding them.

Second place went to Shame, Guilt, the Muslim Psyche, and the Danish Cartoons, in which Dr. Sanity applies her psychiatry background to the reactions to the Danish cartoons.

When experiencing healthy shame an individual may not be very happy to have embarrassing weaknesses and defects made obvious, but this awareness is insightful and humbling. As long as an individual is capable of self-doubt and self-reflection about his behavior; he is able to remain open-minded and willing to search for a better understanding of himself and others.

... In contrast, guilt is an emotion that rises after a transgression of one's own or cultural values. Guilt is about actions or behavior; while shame is about the self. There is an important psychological difference in saying to someone that their behavior is bad; as contrasted with saying that they are bad. The former leads to guilt; the latter to shame.

Outside the Council, first place went to everyone's favorite Egyptian blogger, Big Pharaoh, as he imagines Allah giving him a 10 commandments for modern Muslims, including this one:

Your leaders should know that what was OK in the year 706 might not be OK in the year 2006. I won’t get upset if you changed a few things in the laws and regulations as long as you continue to profess faith in me, pray to me, fast during Ramadan, give alms, and perform Hajj if you’re capable of doing so.

Second place in this category went to All Things Beautiful's Alexandra for having a go at trying to figure out, as well as refute, some of the recent ruminations from a blogger named Glenn Grenwald, who writes like an intelligent man and is said to have been a high-powered First Amendment lawyer once, but sure says some godawful stupid stuff. She writes:

Glenn seems to have a business plan, perhaps he has aspirations to enter politics and pitch for the Senate. His posts have become a barrage of personal attacks on conservative bloggers which were not present pre-love affair with Daily Kos, Atrios, Digby and Crooks and Liars where he plays to the audience beautifully. Like a masterful marketer he adjusts the marketing message according to the most prevalent demand of his consumers and tailors it to suit the latest liberal sound bites.

Me, I think he's just a masochist. Hang a "dog-pile on me" sign around your neck and poke sticks at just the sort of people who will do it to you.

Personally I cast one of my out-of-council votes for a different All Things Beautiful post, Alexandra's meditation on her late father, the Yugoslav literary figure Borislav Pekic. The accompanying illustration, though not done with the computer screen in mind, makes wonderful use of the "scroll" as an tool in story-telling.

My father was betrayed many times by close friends, in a totalitarian regime, but he always forgave them. He said that they had considerations of their livelihood, which he did not have to worry about. They had considerations for their very lives, which my father had given to the cause of freedom long ago. They had considerations for their families' wellbeing, which my father did not have (when he married my mother he made his position clear, and she understood that, when I came along I simply was not asked. Heh.)

He forgave them, not because they know not what they do, but because he understood the human weaknesses and survival instincts which my father gave up for the cause of freedom.

And again, he always said to me "Look to yourself, not to others. Don't ever rely on others to fight for YOUR freedom. They never will. They will always fight for their own version of it, which is relevant to their own little world. Very few people in history have truly fought for the good of mankind."