The Campus and the First Amendment

February 22, 2006 — Leave a comment

The Daily Tar Heel, student daily of the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, recently ran the infamous cartoons of Mohammed that have caused violent protests across the globe. There is now a group of UNC students protesting this editorial decision by marching in front of the Daily Tar Heel office.

It is interesting to note the irony in the way the dominant culture of the university handles this sort of thing. What is happening here is, in effect, a call for censorship. The grounds for this call is that the cartoons represent a religious tradition in a way that is offensive to adherents to that religious tradition (and others). The cartoons can be construed to imply that Islam is a religion of violence, ignorance, and folly. At least part of this is true, but not in the way stated above. Rather I would restate as follows:

Islam is a religion that is comprised of adherents who are human beings.
Human beings have an immense propensity to violence, ignorance, and folly.
The violence, ignorance, and folly is not innate to Islam so much as it is to the human condition.

The same might be true of any world religion since all world religions have this in common: they are social constructs that exist in human society, and human society is fallen. That is to say: human beings (individually and corporately) have inherited a fractured relationship to God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And it is only through redemption, believing on Jesus Christ and hoping in the Christian Gospel, that this fallenness is overcome.

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