Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When Passion and Common Sense Clash...

With all the things that are going on around the world today ... I am writing about a teddy bear. After all, the newest round in the Mid-east peace talks is starting up ... In Pakistan, President Musharref is stepping down as head of the Army ... Iran has just announced it has a new missile with a range of 1200 miles ... and in the world of higher education, Montclair State University has made it mandatory for students to carry "school issued" cell phones with GPS tracking devices (costing the students $500.00 a year). So, with all this news (most of which pisses me off), why would a teddy bear win the honor of being the most screwed-up news in the world today? Well folks, it's a tale of stupidity on the part of ALL of the parties involved, and just contributes to increased animosity and downright hatred between the Muslim and Western worlds. Here is the story:

A British primary school teacher has been arrested in Sudan for insulting the Prophet Mohammed. Gillian Gibbons a 54 year old teacher from Liverpool is facing a maximum punishment of 40 lashes, 6 months in jail and a fine for naming a teddy bear Mohammed. Gibbons was following a British national curriculum designed to teach children about animals and their natural habitats. This year the animal was the bear. A student brought in a teddy bear as part of the project and Ms Gibbons allowed the 7-yr olds in her class to vote for their favorite name for the bear. Twenty out of the twenty-three kids voted for the name Mohammed. Some parents took offense and the result was her arrest.

Here is the shared stupidity portion of this story. The British government, as well as the administration of the Unity school should have briefed Ms Gibbons on local customs before she was ever allowed to teach in a school in an Islamic country. The Koran has many references to what is considered idolatry and insult to Islam, and both entities were derelict in their duties to inform this teacher about what could get her into trouble. Ms Gibbons is an idiot for not making sure she knew about local customs before she even went to the Sudan. Most intelligent people research things before they travel to a foreign land ... especially one like Sudan. The parents of these kids need to get a life. If something offends you, what ever happened to complaining to the teacher or the school? I'm sure if they had come to Ms Gibbons she would have apologized and re-named the stupid bear. Finally, the Sudanese government needs to grow up. I realize that ignorance of the law (in this case article 125 of their criminal law) is no excuse, but their is a difference between law and justice. Sudan needs to drop this and either expel the teacher or let her apologize and keep teaching.

Meanwhile, Unity School is currently closed until at least January because they fear riots and retaliation from the community. Can anyone tell me how a little bit of stupidity can cause all this hullabaloo?

Or is the real reason because ... She taught them how to vote???

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Anonymous said...

Viva La Religion !!!

Talking about religious wackos!

I wonder if Governor Jesse Ventura was thinking about this crowd when he made is infamous speech about "Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers."

In ref to religion, I like what our founding fathers wrote on Article VI of the US Constitution:

"..... no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Have a fine Texas evening.


Debbie said...

What I noticed was "the children are the ones who chose the name for the bear." Yet the teacher is the one who will be punished. Islam sucks royally. These people who get upset over cartoons, or a stuffed bear, or whatever are dangerous to humanity.

buffalodickdy said...

Shoulda named the bear Jesus- that would have really got 'em goin'!

WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya Paul...freakazoids , the whole lot of them!...a bear!!!!!!!!..lol

Superstar said...

That has to be one of the most wacka-doo storys and hypocracy facing all teachers, not only nationwide...but WORLD wide.
~scratches head~
Yeah, I am so not sure HWY I do this...OH yeah...the vacation schedule...heheheheh

A Little Revolution said...

Oh, I read about that story as well! It is so freaking crazy! So much for a religion of peace and tolerance. Imagine how many people we'd have to beat for giving pets names of Biblical prophets!

I think you are right that the whole voting thing didn't help her either!

lime said...

you are right to emphasize adequate cross cultural training as a preventative measure for such misunderstandings. at the same time, i am not sure any training can prevent all problems. anyone who is a guest in a culture is bound to slip up at some point, it's part of the learning process.

given the genocide that is taking place in sudan and the recent outrage of a rape victim in saudi arabia being lashed and jailed is it any wonder this woman caused offense?

Mike M said...

I agree that the teacher should have learned the culture better and I disagree with the punishment they might impose, but I have to disagree with you on a comment.
The comment about Sudan's government needing to grow up is a little harsh.
Despite the it being just a bear, what she did was a crime and in their eyes a crime against God.
Different countries handle crimes against God differently. Sudan is run by people who believe in God and run their country on those principals.
I disagree with the punishment, but I agree with the principal. They have their way, we have ours. We expect them to follow our laws when they live and work here, they expect the same thing.

Paul Champagne said...

tlrb ... I wish that we could truely seperate church from state, but we can't ... and neither can other countries.

debbie ... cut them a little slack. In the US, who would we blame, the teacher or the 7-yr olds?

buffalo ... I was thinking the same thing. Or maybe Moses?

angel ... agreed

bambi ... vacation? what's a vacation?

rev ... probably the first time anyone in the Sudan has even voted.

lime ... absolutely, but in the end, the woman should have covered her ass and made sure she understood the culture. If I were to visit a Muslim country these days, the two words that would not escape my lips are Allah and Mohammed. I would hope that an educator would have at least that much common sense.

mike ... I can understand where you are coming from. Maybe I should have said that Islam itself must grow up. They are still living in the 16th century (at least the extremists are).

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

40 lashes? OOOOOUCHHHH lol
i would have made a same mistake if i were in Sudan...
poor woman!!
and thanks for that cute pic of teddy bear :)
im gonna save it in my file. sooo cute!!

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

UN BUHHHH LEAVE ABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tapline said...

paul, Good Post.....The woman should go back to England and the school should close. Leave the heat in Sudan and let them sweat. They deserve what they get. Their religion is the least of their problems. If they can't seperate a stuffed bear from their holy prophet, they definately have a problem, but it doesn't seem that education can help. I ramble. ...stay well....

In_spired said...


Mona said...

The extremists need educating & need to come out of past!

snowelf said...

This is a sad, sad story. And that picture is so appropriate. I feel so awful for that poor teacher.


CoUrTnEy said...

Paul! I wish wrote that!

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Sorry! Thant was me!