Over the course of the last week, I’ve watched as protests have unfolded across the Middle East in response to—wait for it—a video on the internet. At press time, it’s still up in the air as to whether or not the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya resulted in the death of ambassador Chris Stevens was premeditated or if those rocket-powered grenade launchers just happened to be in the right place at the right time, but meanwhile, across more than 10 countries, occasionally violent protests have broken out against the U.S. for—in case you missed it the first time—a video. On the internet.
I’ve witnessed some stupid shit in my adult life. Really. It’s a long list. But to have people in more than 10 countries get so upset about a clip on YouTube that they start killing people? I’m all for respecting peoples’ beliefs and whatnot, as much as that respect also allows room for my particular brand of arrogant condescension—it’s really something special this time of year; you wouldn’t like it—but seriously? A video? On the internet?
Hard to believe, but maybe no one’s ever said this: Hey guys, the internet is an entire world of stupid. People are free to unleash their inner idiot anonymously, and while there’ve been some culturally-changing moments since it really caught on, the vast majority of it has been porn, the racist ranting of assholes and teenaged (or teenaged-level, if not actually teenaged) trolling. What the fuck could you possibly expect from the same cultural force that gave the world “Tits or GTFO?”
And further, the video in question—the trailer for a movie called Innocence Of Muslims, which denigrates the Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace upon him, and so forth)—isn’t even straight-to-DVD. I don’t think you can even stream it on Netflix. If it was cellphone footage of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton having lunch and the president dropped a one-liner to the secretary of state about one of the Prophet’s grandsons being a dogfucker or something, and that got posted to YouTube—a conversation which, by the way, never took place and I don’t know a damn thing about the Prophet’s progeny—then maybe I could understand it. But that’s not what happened. I saw that trailer. It’s just some jerks talking shit. It happens all the time.
I know it’s not that simple. There’s a whole post-colonial context, cultural differences, and a host of social issues playing out in the Middle East—blah blah Israel, blah blah unemployment, blah blah it’s 130 degrees there and you’d be angry too—but at some point you just have to step back and realize that all of this is happening because, for whatever reason, some goofy asshole decided to make a movie calling the founding figure of a religion a douchebag. I’ve tried to figure out the math between the action and the reaction and the numbers just don’t add up to anything other than our species being completely boned on all sides.
But I guess that’s why it has to be true. Because if it made sense, seemed plausible or worked on a basic mathematical level, it wouldn’t be religion. Imagine spending, oh, I don’t know, a thousand years fighting over the same bullshit. Come to think of it, I don’t know who I think I am criticizing for it having been a week of nonsensical violence. It’s been forever of nonsensical violence.
So what else is new?