The New York Post describes a farcical cat and mouse game between activist Mona Eltahawy and a woman called Pamela Hall as Eltahawy tried to paint over a poster like the one depicted below. Hall was blocking the spray paint and Eltahawy scooted around finding an opening to continue her over-painting.
“Mona, do you think you have the right to do this?” said Pamela Hall, holding a mounted camera as she tried to block the barrage of spray paint.
“I do actually,” Eltahawy calmly responded. “I think this is freedom of expression, just as this is freedom of expression.”
Hall then thrusts herself between Eltahawy’s spray paint and the poster.
Eltahawy — an activist who has appeared on MSNBC and CNN — engaged her in an odd cat-and-mouse dance, spraying pink every time she had an opening.
“What right do you have to violate free speech,” Hall pleaded.
“I’m not violating it. I’m making an expression on free speech,” an increasingly agitated Eltahawy shot back.
“You do not have the right!” Hall said.
Eltahawy continued spraying around Hall until the Transit police arrived to arrest Eltahawy.
The episode recalls another incident recounted in the Wall Street Journal involving a Republican man who left an absentee ballot to be mailed by his Democratic wife.
As Isaac Pollak, an ardent Republican, kissed his wife goodbye before heading out on a business trip to Asia several years ago, he handed her his absentee ballot for the coming presidential election and asked her to mail it.
Bonnie Pollak, a Democrat, weighed her options. Should she be loyal to her spouse, respect his legal right and mail the ballot? Or remain faithful to her deeply held beliefs and suppress his vote?
“It was a real dilemma,” says Ms. Pollak, 58 years old, a student in a doctoral program in social welfare who lives in Manhattan. “I decided to do the right thing.”
Ms. Pollak threw the ballot away.
That was a tough moral dilemma.
Both Eltahawy and Ms. Pollack were doing what each was convinced was “the right thing”. In the case of the Egyptian activist the right thing was to paint over a hateful poster in order to foster peace and harmony. In Ms. Pollack’s case the equivalent action was to cast Mr. Pollack’s ballot into the garbage can before it could help install a Republican.
What is the right and manful thing to do? These seem like questions out of an earlier age.
The striking thing about our modern and supposedly secular politically correct culture is just how religious it is. The concepts of piety and the sense of the sacred are still very much in evidence although other terms are used to describe them. In place of “blasphemy” we have the newfangled term “hate speech”. In place of “sin” we have “bigotry”. Where the word “Satan” was formerly applied we have “Romney”. In place of well … Madonna says “like a prayer”. But it is the same dog with a different collar. Whereas in the past intellectuals complained that society was afflicted by pious women, today the intellectuals have themselves become the pious women.
There is apparently nothing that can be done to stem or suppress the religious instincts in man. They are as strong as ever. But perhaps some purpose can be served by recognizing it for what it is. There is no benefit in the self-deceptive act of pretending that Jesus and Moses are one thing, but somehow Xenu, Gaia and the Prophet Mohammed are another.
They are either similar intellectual entities or nothing at all. For a mind divided against itself cannot stand. This society cannot endure, permanently, half bigoted and half fanatical. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of hate speech will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till we all hate each other.
The benefit to recognizing religion for what is that one can exercise it openly as faith. The disadvantage to disguising it as politics, or worse, advancing a political and supremacist movement as a religion is that we confuse everybody, most especially ourselves. There’s a reason why the First Amendment exists though it only works if everyone sees things for what they are.
But since no one pays heed any more to a 100 year old document that nobody reads then perhaps we should all listen to Russell Peters for guidance on how to ‘do the right thing’ in our difficult and problematic age.
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