Response toward the “Innoncent of Muslims” made by Sam Bacille, 2012

Respecting others mean respecting yourself

I begin my writing for this time with these two sentences:

“A conflict can happen because of jokes that are inappropriate and out of contexts”

“Free speech in a certain country might not lead into the same concept as it applies in other countries. Free speech should not mean absolute freedom of speech. A speech that is directed to hurt others is more dangerous that a speech that is encouraging people to keep and restore peace. Being thoughtful and respectful is much better than being mindful and disrespectful. Freedom of speech is available only to those who can have a sense of responsibility than to those who only think about themselves”

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It has always become a saddest part for Muslims to be seen in a misleading way. Previously, in 2010, the burning of Qur’an, which was almost done by a priest in Florida, and now, the mocking video of “Innocent of Muslims” made by Sam Bacille, a US citizen. I imagine if the leaders of the United States did not spread the ideas of mutual understanding about its citizens, the Muslim world still views American in a negative way. Why? Everyone knew that 9/11 was a tragic thing to happen in the United States, but considering that several countries in the world had been colonized for more than centuries by “advanced” countries, but these “colonized” countries keep going and make good connection with “those” countries, this is something that an American should realize. The center of the world is not in the United States, but it is in everyone’s heart. Then, what is the thing that can cause this stupid mockery over one religion and what does it mean with hurting other religions as well? Is there anything to do with the government? What should we do as a global citizen who knows how to think beyond our common circle?

Now, let us see this problem from the value of freedom of speech. As a faculty of English department who teaches English, I know pretty sure what it means with the word, “speech”. Speech is indicated to spoken word, literally. Nowadays, since the massive development and use of internet, the word “speech” has become more than just spoken words. It has become written statements or videos containing recorded spoken speech. A video is also considered as a form of speech. At this point, I agree that a video is freedom of speech. The question now goes into the word, “freedom”. Do we really have freedom in life? Does our freedom also include demeaning others around us? If that means so, why would we have to create laws and norms in order to rule people’s behavior? Are all these things created for making peaceful life among us? Even then, if I can have the same concept of freedom of speech, why cannot I mock a president of a certain country by telling stupid facts in internet worldwide? Why does the news present all the same stories by informing us that we need “facts”? All these questions came out in my mind because I concern. One thing that I believe is that there is no such thing called absolute freedom of speech. I remember when the president of John F Kennedy who was assassinated because of supporting better quality of leadership in the United States of America. The problem of the video entitled “Innocent of Moslems” was not in the hand of Muslims who got angry because of the video. What they did was right.

I was so disappointed of knowing the idea of “get over it” when it comes to the mockery of an important figure in Islam. Some websites informing that the idea of mocking others’ religion is a common thing happen in internet. Then, I have a question. “Really? I do not think so” To be honest, I had been using internet and watching videos on YouTube since 2005! During these years, I did not find any links that contribute to the expansive action of mocking religion of other people worldwide. In order to stop riot done by Muslims, what we need to do is to educate people more about religions, especially for American students in the United States. Since I am taking literacy and discussion with classmates who are dedicated teachers in their field, I become well-aware of the needs of American students to have strong foundation in what it means to learn philosophy, religion, and politics. Our brain can only access certain parts of things where we could think about something. We had been bombarded by the idea of, “what is the proof? what is the evidence? if you cannot proof it, i cannot accept it”. This statement is completely demonizing because it stops our ability to reflect of what have happened around us globally. There are certain things that we can feel. To live in the world where we always compete one another only make us humans who do not have any sense of what it means to uplift someone’s life. Not everyone can be winners. True winners are those who can make the losers become as winner as they are. I may not be able to see the whole picture of American students, but from the discussion in the classroom, the reason why of such video could be made was because of tremendous freedom of speech without even learning the word known as “responsibility”.

Free speech is protected in the United States. This is good. However, the question is, what type of speech? For what purpose is the speech made and delivered for? Who created the speech? Is the speech valuable enough? I think, as a graduate student in the United States now, free speech means a right that every person has that is in line with the ability to speak for him or herself without offending others. In daily lives, I have seen that many American are open-minded about something new. At the very least, I know this because I live around American students. In my place, as an international student, I clearly understand that about others’ ways of life is crucial to create peaceful life. If Muslims do not respond to the video, there might something wrong with Muslims. If Muslims did not get offended, more and more videos will be created and the new generation of Muslims will be tortured mentally and spiritually. In the highest level, the meaning of cultural exchange that the Fulbright promoted will fail. Why? What is the point of having cultural exchange between countries if every students who live in different countries do not understand one another better? I honestly do not see any difference of mine with students coming from other countries. They eat foods like I do. They like to eat sweet cakes like I do. If Muslims do not want to consume alcoholic drinks, why bother? If Muslims do not want to eat pork, why bother? If Muslims do not want to have free-sex, why bother? What I can think about Muslims is that Muslims are the élite generation of these days. Muslims way of life are very high. They had been taught to be patient. Even though the prophet Muhammad pbuh faced tremendous hardship during his da’wah, he could do that because Allah SWT had given him power to do that. Compared to the reality that all Muslims generation have today, speaking up is the best way to show the existence. Otherwise, oppression will always be done in a lot of ways. We do not want this to happen, right?

The best solution to this problem goes to YouTube. Who owns YouTube? What kind of people? What are their principle? What kind of videos that are eligible for publicity in YouTube? In what language? YouTube should filter the video that is being published. We need to make more educated generation than making our generation living the “tube” by watching different series of irresponsible videos. All videos in YouTube have no cultural basis and no specific laws in it. Even though the video in YouTube was published in the United States, it does not mean that the video could be considered as under the United States law. Every video, as long as it is accessible outside the United States, it belongs to every internet users. The uploader who should be responsible for uploading the video. Internet has no boundaries and borders as we have in our daily life as an X citizen living in a Y country. In internet, we do not have such things. If certain groups get offended by certain videos, I think it is normal. If they groups are silent, it means that the groups’ identity is under question.

Another solution that I may purpose is to educate our children more about religion. We may not teach them all religions, but we can tell them what it means to know religion. It is to understand several circumstances that might not work for us. Among American students who used to live in fancy life styles, understanding religion might be something new to them. Let them know. Therefore, they will not make jokes about the important spiritual things of other religions too. I might not be able to make jokes about Jesus, for example. In the same way, I do not want to humiliate the god and goddesses of other religions. In this way, I learn how to be compassionate and understanding. An educated person is not only able to understand new realms within his or her circumstances but also able to comprehend other dimension of what other people believe in their life. I had sat with Jewish, Christians, Atheist, Buddhist, and Hindus in this country. What is the point of differentiating people based on religion? Triggers and problems always come from those want to dominate others or to create devilish action on earth. Therefore, my last question is, have you decided what you can do to improve the peaceful life among the people around you? The answer lies within yourself. We all are humans. We speak the same language by using our mouth, not hands.

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My second year experience as a Fulbright scholar really deepens my understanding of what it means to be a brighter person, not only in intellectual capacity but also in character and leadership.

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