Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bad Religion

In the mall today, I found myself staring with horror at the back of a slim guy wearing a funky hair due and a black t-shirt that carried this logo.

My heart skipped beats, and my eyes scanned all four directions of the vicinity. That skinny guy, if someone was to jump at him he’d be broken to halves in an instant.

But there were no concerned or offended people. And my jaw, which remained glued to where I first dropped it, was revealing a bit too much about my background.

Researching the logo, it turned out that “
Bad Religion” is a rock movement since the 80’s. And it made sense that in political, opinionated, and “Impeach Bush” Portland, people would not object so much to a partially political, partially social, group.

This incident, however, is not unique. Logos I see on Oregonian cars, t-shirts, and lockers continue to surprise me. I reckon my eyes which are unused to personal opinions being displayed so openly, especially those which are controversial, is more sensitive than the eyes which have seen it all before.

That in itself triggers a question:
Extreme prevention of opinion, and extreme display of opinion, do they not kill the opinion in their own ways? While prevention stops the opinion from being spoken, doesn't the excessive display prevent it from being heard?


Piety Seeker said...

"Extreme prevention of opinion, and extreme display of opinion, do they not kill the opinion in their own ways? While prevention stops the opinion from being spoken, doesn't the excessive display prevent it from being heard?"

Yes, I totally agree with you, Iraq which was ruled by Saddam is totally different from Iraq now, I think this might set as a vivid example of the two extremes. Now, when Iraqi society gained the right to speak for itselves, the country turned to entire mess, Iraqis voices never been heard.Now It is even much worse than Iraq before the war.
May Allah Almighty help them and be their guidence.
Masha'allah it's avery nice blog, a sense of a working mind.

I have a BA in English Literature too, got it last year loool,I studied in a colledge in Jeddah. still got a poor langauge, but it works for now, planning to get MA, insha'allah, ed3eely.

Have a nice day.

Aysha said...

piety seeker,
If you graduated from a college in Jeddah, that means you went through some excellene education! I hear that the colleges there surpass KSU and KAAU by far.

It is interesting that you would mention Iraq. Do you think that in the time of war people get to think clearly or even express their opinion? I think the mess you hinted is merely a measure of suppressed expression.

Keep the good stuff coming!

Lawrence of Arabia said...

we are capable of tolerating a wide range of speech without serious controversy as long as they do not have the capacity to actually change the historically accepted social practices. it is only when there is a danger of disrupting the established set of practices that the speech becomes "really" dangerous.

the raucous and heated debate over the possibility of normalizing same-sex marriages is an excellent example:

certainly something like pacifism is actually a greater protest against the direction the nation is taking, but while there are pacifists in the u.s. it is not a widespread opinion and no one really cares. an epidemic of american-pacifism seems unlikely to emerge! moreover even as a pacfist i have to live, so presumeably i am going to go to work and unless i want to go to jail pay taxes, etc. if i don't do those things i am socially irrelevant and if i do do those things, who cares what i say since my practices support the normalized order.

on the other hand homosexuality is increasingly prominent and accepted and thus poses IN PRACTICE a threat to the status quo of heterosexual (and let's face it - implicitly and historically patriarchal) households. in short a new form of socialization and a new set of social norms is emergent and this is threatening to the previous order. [compare to 30years ago when homosexual unions was a complete non-issue]

so you are quite perceptive about how speech works here. but at some level isn't that how it always works? speech itself is dangerous in repressive regimes because they recognize that they only rule by sheer power. the social order does not reflect the desires of the people and thus any and all expressions of illicit desire must be suppressed because the supposedly illicit desire is actually more representative of what people want than the regime itself, which uses force to coerce behaviour.

in the united states socialization is used to create a broad consensus in the population so that the regime is not perceived as directly oppressive by the people it governs.

best wishes,

p.s. dating myself by the fact that i remember "bad religion"...i am getting old.

أبو سنان said...

I not only remember "Bad Religion" I have been to their concerts and own a CD or two of theirs.

They are a punk band that has been around from the 1980s and are known for their political stance which is a bit to the left.

I was a punker in the 1980s, that is how I know about them.

I have no problem with extremist statements or ideas as long as they do not lead to violence. Bad Religion has never advocated violence so I have no issues with them.

Freedom of speech is important, even for those who have radical views that we disagree with. As long as they dont lead to violence people should be free to think as they wish.

It is a slippery slope when we start talking about the effects of some people's ideas and whether or not they are healthy.

Before you know if people get labeled with "deviant" ideas and get thrown in jail.

Jail people/outlaw ideas based on their deeds, not just on the ideas themselves.

The idea that one must respect the right of people to have different ideas about things is very important and often has a hard time making inroads in societies where traditional cultures rule.

The problem is that different or extremist viewpoints rattle the cage and cause issues where free and independent thinking is seen as dangerous.

I am not a fan of many viewpoints out there, but value their worth because I know it is the price of freedom of speech.

AngloGermanicAmerican said...

Extreme prevention of opinion, and extreme display of opinion, do they not kill the opinion in their own ways? While prevention stops the opinion from being spoken, doesn't the excessive display prevent it from being heard?

What is the objective or goal? By this, I mean, as you ruminate about suppression of opinion and its seemingly many forms, what state of affairs is desirable? What interest or perhaps whose interest should be promoted? Do the interests change when the object of our attention changes and we view it from the perspective of an individual, a community, a larger society, or the state (in all of its forms - local, state and federal)?

Piety Seeker said...

Well, it wasn't just an excellent education, we were studying like machine, Fourth year we studied 13 subjects, and we had our finals two weeks and three days, with out any off's. loool. it was bad, really bad.
Some new Doc. said that the books we studied is for MA.
Anyways, Alhamdulliah. we get through all that with out any brain damage. looool

drlilliy said...

I think extreme in any state is not favorable.. it losses the objective of it by irritating people who dont agree with it.. but I do believe in that a person has a right to express what he believes in but not in a harmful way.. and it might let people take a minute and think about that opinion.. and young people especially in their teenagehood years are striving for attention and declare their individuality... some times by rebelling to traditional believes ( I dont know the age of who displayed that T but it is some thing I saw a lot of teens do and its understandable) ..

Shale of Agnon said...

Freed of expression is fine, but what about when your impressionable sixteen year old daughter meets some scientologists on the street?

Restriction of expression is fine, but what about when those restricting your expression are scientologists?

Hmmm, hmmm, 'tis neither black, nor white, but grey.

Abu Daoud said...

The idea that we have in the US of freedom of expression and freedom of speech is not tied to our love for freedom or what have you.

Rather, it is tied to our historical awareness of the sinfulness of umanity. In Islam if you have the right laws (sharii3a) then you will have the right society. We Christians have no such illusions. Sin and rebellion are in the heart of every man and woman and child and baby. The problem is not jahiliyye (Ignorance), it is Sin--a fundamental rebellion against the holiness of God.

So, RE Speech: We have no confidence that any government--even one formed of good Christians--would be able to always make the right decisions.

Muhammad concentrated all power in his hands. Christianity intentionally form governments that disperse power.

Hence free speech.

I am a practicing Christian. I read the Bible, I go to church, I defend this man's right to wear this shirt, even if by it he means my religion is a load of BS. Ashkurallah. And I love him too--but that's another topic...

Lawrence of Arabia said...

abu dauod,

while i might be willing to agree that political liberalism is a kind of political neo-protestantism to say that christianity believes that political power ought to be dispersed because of original sin does not really represent the history of the christian tradition very well. quite often the very opposite was the case: precisely because of original sin and the inability of humanity to will the good, very stringent controls were exerted on human behavior.

first chance they got (312 AD) christians embraced the idea of empire and the imperial ideal of the holy roman empire continued to be relevant to the political structure of europe well into the 1800s at least. meanwhile the reformation in its earliest expressions were either tied to aristocratic power (luther) or in the swiss cantons where the burghers ran the cities the protestant churches were especially rigourous in their interpretation of what was and was not allowed. indeed when certain radical reformers tried to truly have a govt by the people, arguing that all people were inherently equal, luther fulled endorsed the use of military might to squash the peasant revolt. to point to another example, when the reformation christians got a hold of political power in england after the civil war there, cromwell's attempts to restructure public and private life so that the opportunity to sin would be minimized went so far as to cancel christmas. meanwhile the puritans did not get their reputation for severity from nowhere. etc.

finally one can point out that catholicism only recently acknowledged that political liberalism was an desireable form of political organization in the 1960s, insisting up until that point that ideally the state should be catholic so that it might best guide its citizens, and there remains deep questions about the status of political liberalism within catholicism.

all that to say: the deformed nature of the human will by original sin has been used much more often as an excuse for restricting political power and expression under the belief that a society ruled by the mob would certainly fall into depravity and chaos.

best wishes,

Aysha said...

This is one place where I'd truly want to read closely and say no word.

Can't tell you how clearer my own questions have become, reading your own thoughts and questions on freedom, opinion, and societies- the American in particular. You gave me a high dose of terminology that I wish I had as I approached this subject matter. My ideas would have been able to come across more easily. Maybe eventualy. Just keep being here, please ^_^!

Thank you LoA, Abu Sinan, AngloGermanicAmerican, drlilliy, Shale of Agnon, & Abu Daoud for helping me get an insider's look.

Inspire Your Mind said...

What about a T-shirt logo displaying something like " Saudi Feminists.. on the go " .. and you girls should choose a day, so it would be an anniversery every year, and wear it all together across continents so it appears in the news..
Maybe then things will start to change for a better life for you guys..

Um Naief said...

personally i see nothing wrong w/ slogans on t-shirts, bumper stickers and whatnot. i feel that most will tell you a lot about the individual wearing the shirt or driving the car.... and i also believe in freedom of expression and these rights shouldn't be taken from ppl.

for instance, here in bahrain, they have disallowed ppl from wearing certain t-shirts at school and i believe disallowed particular stores from selling drug slogans. not that i think a person should go out and advertise drugs, but i see nothing wrong w/ wearing a t-shirt that advertises such if you want to do it.

my husband has lots of t-shirts w/ slogans on them. i can't imagine a society where it wouldn't be allowed. one of my favorites is: "i'm surrounded by idiots". we've had lots of ppl laugh when reading that, especially here in bahrain. funny thing is... we got it at disney land!

more power to the ppl... i see nothing wrong w/ such t-shirts - like the one you saw at the mall. ppl should be allowed to express themselves.

badriyah alabdulrahman said...

Hi aysha...

Don't you think ( like i do)...
that abusing freedom of speech on the skinny man way..would step on my right of protecting my on mind and opinions..

I don't think that i have the right to humiliate any opinion with this pathitic way in a public place ..and then call it freedom of speech..

Obviously and without's a way ..a good way in fact to pick an unreasonable battels in a one soceity ..

To show disrespect for a person's belief has nothing to do with freedom or democracy or liberty...

it's many ways...

Aysha said...

That sounds like fun ^_^
However, I have little faith in titles such "feminism". I do believe in carrying out what you believe is right, yet, morals that become labeled, often are abused. In other words, people begin to have loyalty for the label, and grow involved in the politics of the label, growing further and further away from the moral which is the primary reason for their existence.

On the other hand, I think it is not likely in Saudi to allow girls to walk in public with t-shirts that announce a common interest such as feminism. You will have religious people, people from the gov't "ministry of interior affairs" coming up to them and ordering that they change it. Something similar happened when girls in my university wore t-shirts that support Iraq 4 years ago. Moreover, if they were allowed, no one can photograph them in t-shirts and display those pictures in public mediums.

Aysha said...

um naief & badriyah,
You are almost "the" two sides to the debate. I am sooo enjoying this ^_^
Thank you um naief, and badriyah: welcome to my blog!