Salon Writer Can't Tell the Difference Between the Quran and 'Breaking Bad'

For Salon-style liberals, no explanation for violence is too stupid, so long as it rules out Islam.
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For Salon-style liberals, no explanation for violence is too stupid, so long as it rules out Islam.
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There's a very special column on Salon right now by Heather Digby Parton that tries to massage all the sore spots that whitewashers of the Quran's more ignoble passages have endured over the past several weeks. It's the type of specious apologia to which we've become accustomed, but it distinguishes itself from many previous attempts in that it actually recognizes that there may be an issue with some of the teachings of Islam's founding text. But that's where coherence gives way to abject fatuity.

After acknowledging -- in the most deferential and understated way possible -- that the Quran "can be interpreted as condoning violence," Parton wonders why Quran critics such as Bill Maher and Sam Harris aren't "equally concerned about other forms of influence" that might induce people to violence:

"After all, if Islam is responsible for the violence of a handful out of nearly two billion adherents you’d think Hollywood should be held responsible for the violence of a handful out of the billions of people who watch their violent programs, wouldn’t you?"

Parton actually cites the failed lawsuits that centered on the movie Natural Born Killers and a Judas Priest album. In those instances, the litigation alleged these modes of entertainment had inspired acts of violence in a few who had watched or listened to them. As an added touch, Parton cites the case of a Georgetown University student and Breaking Bad fan who earlier this year was caught with ricin, which features prominently in a few of the show's episodes. For the life of her, Parton can't seem to figure out why there should be any difference between a book whose adherents think it's the timeless word of an omnipotent god who demands that infidels be killed and that women be struck, and a cable TV show about a high school chemistry teacher who cooks crystal meth with this guy:

There's also a problem with Parton's use of the word "handful," implying as it does that only an isolated smattering of Muslims are the culprits. But consider last week's story of one ill-fated Christian couple in Pakistan who, rumor had it, had desecrated a Quran. Pardon the quoting at length, but that's the only way to do this horrifying story justice:

Sajjad Maseeh, 27, and his wife Shama Bibi, 24, were set upon by at least 1,200 people after rumors circulated that they had burned verses from the Quran, family spokesman Javed Maseeh told NBC News via telephone late Thursday. Their legs were also broken so they couldn't run away.

"They picked them up by their arms and legs and held them over the brick furnace until their clothes caught fire," he said. "And then they threw them inside the furnace."

Bibi, a mother of four who was four months pregnant, was wearing an outfit that initially didn't burn, according to Javed Maseeh. The mob removed her from over the kiln and wrapped her up in cotton to make sure the garments would be set alight.

I'd like to ask Ms Parton in what country would Sajjid and Shama have been tortured and lynched for defiling Breaking Bad DVDs? What punishment has Vince Gilligan commanded for those who desecrate, defame, or otherwise insult his work? How many executives at AMC would have issued fatwas against these blasphemers against the irreproachable Heisenberg?

Time and again, we are reminded that violence -- especially mob violence -- as a reaction to nonviolent forms of expression and perceived slights by total strangers is almost exclusively the province of followers of the Islamic faith. No other religion, creed, philosophy, or general worldview produces the kind of hysteria-induced behavior that would be considered babyish were it not so destructive:

- In 2005 in Pakistan, a mob of 400 chased a man up a tree and shot him dead after he allowed a Quran to hit the floor.

- In 2006, hundreds of thousands of Muslims around world rioted and set fire to European embassies after a Danish publication ran unflattering cartoons of Muhammad

- In 2011, Afghans in Mazar-i-Sharif raided a United Nations complex after a pastor in Florida burned a Quran because, "Unable to find Americans on whom to vent their anger, the mob turned instead on the next-best symbol of Western intrusion — the nearby United Nations headquarters." Twelve were killed, with some beheaded.

- In 2012, six U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan burned Qurans, which prompted rioting in the country and led to the deaths of 12 people.

- In 2013, a mob of Sunnis attacked a Shia mosque in Egypt, killing four Shiites because it was believed they were "trying to spread Shia beliefs."

- In 2013, hundreds of Muslims rioted in Paris after word got out that police had performed an ID check on a woman wearing a niqab.

- In 2014, a Malaysian church was firebombed after it had used the word "Allah" in a banner, and this is considered unacceptable by Muslim hardliners. The incident occurred four years after ten Malaysian churches were attacked for similarly using "Allah."

- In 2014, an 18 year-old Pakistani man allegedly posted a blasphemous photo on Facebook, which prompted a mob to raid, ransack, and set fire to his neighborhood. In the ensuing conflagration, a woman and her two young granddaughters, aged seven years and eight months were burned alive.

This is only a small sampling of organic mob violence perpetrated by Muslims who felt "offended" by actions that inflicted no tangible harm on them or anyone whatsoever. And this is to say nothing of the jihadists of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the al-Nusra Front, and a myriad of other terrorist organizations whose ideal is the establishment of an Islamic caliphate under which we all praise Allah and live in accordance with sharia.

It's clear from her writing that not only is Heather Digby Parton blissfully unaware of what it's like to be an intellectual slave to religious dogma, she's entirely incapable of entertaining the thought that anyone could ever be. That's because liberals like Parton want -- desperately want -- blasphemy-induced violence, terrorism, and jihad to be about anything but Islam. And they're prepared to advance any stupid arguments they can to conclude that religion is never really responsible for anything terrible -- at least, no more than a television show.

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