Not the first westerners to pose that question, either.
In fairness, they’re not defending the “custom” at issue, although Whoopi does provide the obligatory nod at the end at how arrogant westerners are in demanding that others learn our customs while we blithely ignore the risk of being murdered over stuffed animals while abroad. (She’s also wrong about the kids turning the teacher in; it was an office assistant who did so.) Rather, they’re asking why, as a factual matter, a woman who chose to live among Islamic fundamentalists would do something which she knew might end up in her throat being slit. The answer, which they would have discovered with five minutes of research: She didn’t know. The bear was named after one of her students, not the Muslim prophet, and she foolishly assumed the Sudanese would be capable of acting in good faith and willing to take her intent into account. Should she have known better? Western Muslims have loudly condemned the Sudanese verdict so she may have thought that all Islamic cultures were similarly relatively reasonable. Lesson learned: In Sharialand, give absolutely no one the benefit of the doubt.
But enough of that. You want filthy western Sudan-related moral equivalence? You got it:
We film critics are long past head-shaking. The US Bible-thumpers are ever more uncontrollable…
So powerful has this lobby become that Hollywood has to trim The Da Vinci Code of author Dan Brown’s hairier heresies, delay a green light for shooting Mr Pullman’s sequel novels and ensure that Jerry Springer the Opera tops the burning pyre of never-to-be-filmed projects. At the same time, normally taboo movie components such as extreme violence are blithely waved through when they are in a Vatican-approved slice of saignant Bible scripture such as The Passion of the Christ.
Is there a difference in kind, or merely in degree, between this culture of gaga God-fearingness and the one in Sudan that threatens jail or 40 lashes for the crime of teddy-bear misnaming? How much right do we have in the west to condemn the excesses of Islam while we let popular cinema be commanded and coerced by our own holy rollers, insisting on the divine might of their do’s and don’ts?
Cutting film versus cutting heads. They should fire his ass.