We got a bit of a clue when our beloved and behated Melbourne cartoonist-prophet, Michael Leunig, came up with this cartoon, but then we got the full picture (so to speak) with his article in last Saturday’s A2 “The Message of the Mufti”.
Leunig’s writing is the verbal equivalent of his cartooning, so don’t expect a completely logical argument about the pros and cons of Al-Hilali’s comments. I am a passionate supporter of Victoria’s Racial and Religious Vilification laws, and I recognise that it is possible to read Leunig in a way that seems to support anyone saying anything no matter who gets hurt.
Nevertheless, I have a great deal of sympathy for what he has written (especially in the light of the Regensburg Affair). I agree with him in that I happen to like my religious leaders to be a bit “crunchy”, or, as Leunig puts it:
I like my swamis, muftis and bishops to use rip-roaring colourful language, to be full-flavoured, overproof and offensive – crucifiably so; it’s what I expect from prophets and artists, and would like to see more of it in our modern spiritual executives, who in the main have become polite, insipid and mealy-mouthed, for fear they will cause offence and ruin their prospects – it’s all very disappointing. Muftis and bishops should be like ripe camembert cheeses – a bit on the nose and not for the faint-hearted, but memorable!
Not many share his taste these in days, where the bible that really counts is the “Political Correctness Handbook”. We live in times that require believers to really believe, and to do so unashamedly. I am not denying that being nice to one another is a virtue–just not one very high on the scale. Higher up are prudence (which includes knowing what to say, when to say it and how to say it) and fortitude (which means being able to say and do what you know to be right).
Sometimes a little earthiness doesn’t hurt. Let’s have more “terroirists”!