I'm having one of those moments where someone has made a good argument on an issue, but the argument is deeply annoying me. Alas, I can't find the article that annoyed me, so you'll just have to take my word that it was there.
This all started when I read an article on the National Post's website over the controversy about building a mosque a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center. Ordinarily I'd be reluctant about reading the Post, but I figure it never hurts to get different perspectives with your news. The problem with reading the Post is that I sometimes make the mistake of reading the comments section.
The comments section for any media outlet - the CBC, the Globe and Mail - are all pretty annoying and often frequented by people I'd like to smack repeatedly. But the Post's comment section is like being dipped into Liquid Crazy. Liquid Crazy is like being covered in filth or something. It makes me want to get in the shower for 12 hours or something.
You can just imagine what the comments section on an op-ed piece saying the mosque should not be built near the site. It was like Concentrated Liquid Crazy. It made my skin feel like I'd fallen asleep on a beach without sunscreen for 14 hours.
So yes, deep badness. The kind of badness that makes think things like, "I know forced sterilization is bad and violates any number of basic human rights, but really, this guy here saying the mosque is the beginning of the Islamo-fascist takeover of the United States, would it really be such a terrible thing if his genetic line died with him?"
Anyway, amidst all of this, the columnist in question made one of those points that aggravates me because I disagree with most of the rest of what they're saying. My view on the mosque was basically, why the hell not? The awesome thing about New Yorkers was that most of them simply didn't give a shit about the mosque going up. They didn't view it as outrageous. They didn't view it as a heroic New York thing. It was simply, this is New York. You want to build a mosque there? OK, sure. Fine. Whatever.
It's probably the most multicultural city on Earth. Why wouldn't you have a mosque there? What exactly is the acceptable distance for the World Trade Center site? Four blocks? Ten blocks? The entire island of Manhattan? It just stuck me as absurd. It wouldn't even be news if not for the human starting pistol of stupid, semi-literate self-promoting controversies (Hellooooo, Sarah Palin) hadn't gotten involved.
So what was the annoying point this columnist made? What if a gun club or target range wanted to open up right next to École Polytechnique, where 14 women were murdered by a lunatic with a gun. I'm pretty sure there were be no shortage of groups and organizations horrified by this and arguing that these people were being deeply insensitive to the horror that had happened at the school. I guarantee you women's groups would go ballistic.
This is where it gets dicey. You look at the mosque and say that 99.9 per cent of American Muslims were deeply horrified by 9/11. They would never do something like that. The people who carried out the act were not representative of Islam. That they were lunatics, monsters and fascists using Islam as their excuse for the horror they enacted.
Except, of course, 99.9 per cent of gun owners are law abiding citizens who were deeply horrified by the action that madman took at École Polytechnique that day. They would never do something like that. That man was a deeply disturbed individual who bears no resemblance to most gun owners.
So what's the difference between the two situations? Because honestly, I can't see it. I have a visceral reaction that the shooting range near the university would be bad, but have no problem with the mosque being near the WTC site. But logically, there's little difference between the two.
Seriously, I'm open to holes in my logic on this, because I can't see any. I'm fully open to the idea I'm missing something really obvious. Otherwise, I'm forced to concede the point...that as much as I dislike the idea of a gun club near the university, logically there's no difference between that and building a mosque near the WTC. I'd have to support both ideas or neither.
It's really annoying when someone whose opinions I suspect I wouldn't care for very much actually makes a good point.
1. All the old showstoppers - The New Pornographers
2. Spare parts II and closing (live) - Tom Waits
3. Numb - U2
4. Pay me my money down (live) - Bruce Springsteen*
5. I tried to leave you (live) - Leonard Cohen