Respecting boundaries

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Student’s reaction to riot from anti-Muslim Youtube video

There is a fine line between limiting free speech and being respectful of the boundaries and beliefs of other people.
Three weeks ago, an American-made video titled “Innocence of Muslims” hit the video hosting website, YouTube, sparking riotous results across the world.

Depicting the prophet Muhammad in a far from favorable light, the crudely edited 14-minute glimpse into the background of the Islamic faith makes Muhammad appear to be unintelligent, sexually promiscuous, mentally unstable and violent.

Was it within the filmmaker’s rights of freedom of speech to denounce Islam? Yes. Was the way in which he did so in line with the Christian faith to which he adheres? No.

The film, funded by donations and under the direction of Mark Basseley Youssef, does not in any way represent the godly response to a group of unbelievers.

In the Muslim world, any image of the prophet Muhammad is forbidden. For Muslims, this video not only crosses the line of giving Muhammad a face but also speaking against him.

This view in no way gives credence to the many actions taken by extremists around the globe.

But the freedom to speak against opposition of personal beliefs is a blessing unheard of by many. As Americans, we must accept the responsibility that comes with such a right because every action has a consequence.

Looking at this situation from a biblical perspective, the appropriate way to speak out and take a stand on such a controversial and temper-inducing topic is with a gentle answer. This comes from Proverbs 15:1-2: “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of the fool belches out foolishness.”

The brash, demeaning and irresponsible “Innocence of Muslims” video does not make knowledge of the truth appealing and is certainly not a gentle answer to the question of spiritual truth. From this writer’s perspective, the controversial video is more a belch of foolishness.

In the current political climate, who in their right mind produces something that so easily incites violence in an already unstable and hot-tempered environment?

Youssef was within his rights but certainly not within a Christian mindset.

YouTube has kept the video available for viewing on its website. With nearly 5 million views on the original post, the video has been re-uploaded by others and under various names. Freedom of speech has rightly prevailed.

Would removing this video from YouTube be a limitation of free speech? Yes. Was the video respectful of the boundaries of Muslim believers? No. Could the message of the filmmaker’s disapproval of the Islamic faith have been portrayed in a manner so as not to incite violence? Yes.

While difficult to see at times, the line between exercising free speech and respecting the beliefs of others must be at the fore-front. In this case, the line was blatantly obvious and left in the dust. Innocent lives should not have paid the price for a distasteful 14-minute film.

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