Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The pope might not really mean it

The Pope and the Muslims have been at odds for a week now. The feud began when the Pope quoted a dialogue, involving 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel II, which criticized Islam for being an evil, violent and intolerant force.

While Islam isn't the only religion that could have been accused of such things in the past, some of the louder voices in the present Muslim world responded to the Pontiff's "unjust" attack on "intolerant," "violent" Islam by threatening to kill or at least imprison the Pope.

Irony is more of a Western thing.

The Pope, perhaps realizing it's best to stick with analyzing his own religion, offered a semi-apology -- for the situation he created, not the words he quoted.

If the Pope's apology seemed insincere it's to his credit. Only sociopaths come off as sincere when they are being pushed into making an apology.

Predictably, the Pope's tepid apology didn't temper the situation. The protests against his words spread and may have
claimed the life of a nun in Somalia.

So today the Pope tried again. Remembering he is infallible, he stopped with the apologies and issued a statement affirming his
"deep respect" for Islam.


It is possible to say you "respect" another culture or religion and mean it. But unless "respect" is coupled with a word like "love," or "admire" or "appreciate" more often than not the compliment is backhanded.

Things get even more fishy when you start modifying how much you respect this culture or religion. A good rule of thumb is the stronger the positive modifier the weaker the true sentiment.

If the Pope had used "great deal" or "a lot of" before "respect" one could reasonably conclude the Pope is able to tolerate Islam, but he'd rather not.

"Deep respect" -- now that's just out-and-out dismissive.

Although it's still be better than "deepest respect" which, in this case, would mean if the Pope had a toilet made of Islam he would prefer to go on the bathroom floor.

Now that would be something for the Muslims to get fired up about.


Katie T said...

Crackin' me up today, Jeremy - - toilet made of Islam...lolololol

JT said...

I have to admit, I cracked myself up with that one.